Unsolicited Patient Observations Help Identify Surgeons More Likely to Commit Malpractice

If you feel disrespected by your surgeon, it might be time to find a new doctor. According to a paper published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, patients that receive care from surgeons associated with the highest numbers of patient complaints have a higher likelihood of experiencing surgical complications.

Patient and family reports of rude behavior by surgeons is a valuable tool in assessing which surgeons have a high risk for medical malpractice claims. Hospitals across the country use unsolicited patient observations recorded through the Patient Advocacy Reporting System (PARS) to identify doctors more likely to commit malpractice.

A rude surgeon’s impact is twofold: (1) patients who are unhappy with the way their surgeon treated them are more likely to sue the surgeon in the event of a bad outcome; and (2) a surgeon’s disrespectful behavior may adversely affect the ability of other surgical team members to do their job. As explained in the study, “[t]eam members who experience disrespect may be less likely to speak up, ask for help, or see changes in patients’ conditions.” The study includes an example where a surgeon treated a colleague poorly during an operation. The colleague became hesitant to say anything in subsequent operations to avoid drawing the ire of the surgeon.

The study reports that patients treated by surgeons with the most unsolicited patient observations experience 14% more complications in the thirty days after surgery than those treated by respectful surgeons. The authors of the study, who analyzed data for 32,125 patients over 20 years concluded that “complaint records can identify surgeons with higher rates of surgical site infections and other avoidable adverse outcomes.”  On a positive note, the study also found that disrespectful surgeons who participated in interventions through PARS have responded well and ultimately reduced complaints against them.

As demonstrated by the data in the study, surgeons must be held accountable for their bad behavior because of the clear association with medical malpractice. The experienced attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have represented patients in medical malpractice actions for thirty years. If your or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.