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Surgeons with poor behaviors more likely to face malpractice suit

Surgeons who have been known to exhibit poor communication skills and poor treatment of their colleagues are more likely to face medical malpractice lawsuits, a new study shows.

The Harvard University study looked at four surgery departments in Massachusetts and reviewed records from the malpractice insurance carrier they share. Researchers studied 360-degree performance evaluations of surgeons and malpractice claims against them to assess the correlation.

Nearly half of all surgeons reviewed had at least one malpractice claim against them. Those surgeons who had positive workplace traits, such as listening to feedback and treating all members of their team with respect, had a much lower likelihood of facing malpractice claims. Those who had negative behaviors, such as talking disrespectfully to others, had higher risks of malpractice claims.

According to the lead author of the study, some surgeons will yell at or intimidate their fellow clinicians. They also often don’t keep team members informed of patient care or fail to listen to colleagues who have a different idea about how to care for a patient.

“While it might seem like common sense that a surgeon who does not treat patients and colleagues well is more likely to face medical malpractice claims, our team is the first to establish that an association between 360-review data and malpractice exists,” the author wrote in a blog post. “Our findings emphasize the importance of respectful communication and teamwork and show that surgery needs a culture change.”

While this study took place in Massachusetts, it is logical to assume that the results would be the same with surgeons in Pennsylvania or throughout the United States. As you meet with a surgeon, it is important to assess the surgeon’s behaviors to make sure this is a professional you would want to treat you. In a nonemergency situation, you do have choices of doctors.

There are a number of reasons for poor surgical outcomes. If you believe you have been harmed by a surgeon, or any doctor, a Pennsylvania attorney who works on medical cases can help you learn more about your legal options.