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Bad manners lead to bad outcomes

Los Angeles — A surgeon’s behavior in the operating room affects patient outcomes, healthcare costs, medical errors, and patient and staff satisfaction levels, Medical News Today reports.

A commentary in the July issue of Archives of Surgery suggests that increasingly rude social behaviors sometimes extend even to the surgical suite. Medical News Today quotes co-author Andrew S. Klein, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center in Los Angeles, as saying, “Operating rooms are social environments where everyone must work together for the patients’ benefit. When a surgeon, who is in the position of power, is rude and belittles the rest of the staff, it affects everything.”

The commentary cites several studies that link physician rudeness to effects on patient care, among them:

• A study of 300 operations, in which surgeons were ranked for their behavior, that shows a correlation between civility in the operating room and fewer postoperative deaths and complications.
• A survey that shows that 75 percent of hospital pharmacists and nurses say they try to avoid difficult physicians, even if they have a question about the doctors’ medication orders.
• A survey that reports that more than two-thirds of nurses say physicians verbally abuse them at least once every three months, which leads to high turnover. This impacts patient care, the authors note, as hospitals with high nursing turnover generally report more medical errors and poorer clinical outcomes.

The commentary concludes that, too often, hospital leaders hire based on surgeons’ clinical volume or grant funding, with little or no recognition of interpersonal skills.

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