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Patient Complaints of Surgeon Attitude Tied to Worse Outcomes

Last Updated: February 16, 2017.

Patients treated by surgeons with a history of patient complaints regarding their personalities or attitude are at increased risk of surgical and medical complications, according to a study published online Feb. 15 in JAMA Surgery.

THURSDAY, Feb. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Patients treated by surgeons with a history of patient complaints regarding their personalities or attitude are at increased risk of surgical and medical complications, according to a study published online Feb. 15 in JAMA Surgery.

William Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, and colleagues compared surgical outcomes with patient reports of unprofessional behavior by their doctors at several health systems in the United States.

The investigators found that patients treated by surgeons who had the most complaints had 13.9 percent more complications in the month after surgery than patients treated by surgeons viewed as more respectful. Complications included surgical-site infections, pneumonia, renal conditions, stroke, cardiovascular issues, thromboembolic conditions, sepsis, and urinary tract infections.

"Efforts to promote patient safety and address risk of malpractice claims should continue to focus on surgeons' ability to communicate respectfully and effectively with patients and other medical professionals," the authors conclude.

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