Surgeons who behave badly are more likely to face malpractice claims

A Harvard study found surgeons who behave badly — by yelling, snapping, intimidating or talking down to colleagues — are associated with more medical malpractice claims.

Researchers merged assessments of surgeon behavior from peers, supervisors, trainers, co-workers and others — a 360-degree review — with malpractice history for surgeons from four academic medical centers. They used de-identified survey data for 264 surgeons from 2012 to 2013 and matched it to malpractice data spanning from 2000 to 2015.

The researchers concluded surgeon behavior was associated with malpractice claims. Surgeons who exhibited multiple positive behaviors, according to their 360-degree reviews, were less likely to have malpractice claims, while negative behaviors were generally associated with a greater likelihood of malpractice claims.

"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," wrote Janaka Lagoo, MD, the lead author of the study, in a blog post on Medium. "Our findings emphasize the importance of respectful communication and teamwork and show that surgery needs a culture change. "

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