A study published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery challenges these ideas. The study, which looked at interactions between surgeons and their teams, found that patients of surgeons who behaved unprofessionally around their colleagues tended to have more complications after surgery. Surgeons who model unprofessional behavior can undermine the performance of their teams, the authors write, potentially threatening patients’ safety.
For the study, researchers gathered data on nearly 13,700 patients and 202 surgeons from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, a system designed to track and improve surgical care…
The researchers found that when surgeons had one or more reports of unprofessional behavior over the previous 36 months, their patients were 12% to 14% more likely to experience complications in a 30-day period following surgery. These complications included infections, pneumonia, stroke and kidney failure.
Full text article: Association of Coworker Reports About Unprofessional Behavior by Surgeons With Surgical Complications in Their Patients WO Cooper et al. J
My take: It is interesting to speculate about why rude behavior may affect long-term outcomes. My suspicion would be that team members would be more hesitant to offer advice or to call quickly if concerns arose. Alternatively, it could be that if someone is not considerate enough to work well with their colleagues/other health professionals that they could be less attentive in their care.
Related blog post: How Rudeness Affects Performance in Medicine (and probably elsewhere)