Patients likely to have complications with unprofessional surgeons

By Tauren Dyson

June 19 (UPI) -- Undergoing a surgical procedure performed by a doctor who uses unsafe practices increases the likelihood a patient will suffer an infection, blood clot or other complication, a new study says.

Patients had an 18 percent higher risk of complication during a medical procedure if their surgeon had one to three previous reports of unprofessional behavior, according to research published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery. For patients whose surgeons had four or more reports, their risk of complications skyrocketed to roughly 32 percent.


"Surgical teams require every team member to perform at their highest level. We were interested in understanding whether surgeons' unprofessional behaviors might undermine culture, threaten teamwork and potentially increase risk for adverse outcomes of care," William O. Cooper, vice president for patient and professional advocacy at Vanderbilt University and study corresponding author, said in a news release.

This study follows previous research from Cooper on the negative effects of rudeness in the operating room.

Unprofessional behaviors could mean anything from disrespectful communication with co-workers, to not completing professional responsibilities, to using unsafe practices in the operating room.

For the retrospective study, the researchers reviewed data collected between 2012 and 2016 on more than 13,600 adult patients who underwent medical procedures from 202 surgeons.


Patients were at a higher risk of having blood clots, renal failure, wound infections, stroke or heart attacks if their surgeons had been reported unprofessional behavior within 36 months before their medicals procedures.

According to the researchers, a much higher percentage of women surgeons had no reports of unprofessional behavior compared to men holding those roles.

"It's really about common sense," said Gerald Hickson, a researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and study senior author. "If someone is disrespectful to you, how willing are you to share information or ask for advice or help from that individual."

"Unprofessional behavior modeled by the team leads reduces the effectiveness of the team," Hickson said.

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