Surgeons with bad attitudes get bad results more often for their patients

According to a February 2017 study in the medical journal JAMA Surgery, surgeons who are rude to patients and family members have unusually high rates for infections and surgery complications.

The authors got the idea to do the study because when patients complain about a surgeon, there is a higher likelihood of a medical malpractice claim. The authors wanted to explore whether the same behavior of a surgeon that causes a strained relationship with his or her patients also leads to medical errors and malpractice.

The answer is a resounding “yes.”

The patients of surgeons who had at least 14 complaints within two years had 14 percent more problems after surgery, in comparison to patients of surgeons who had received few or no complaints.

If you think about it, the study results make sense. We have all had the experience of having to work or socialize with someone who is rude and demeaning to others. These people cause stress to everyone around them.

That is why it is not surprising that surgeons who have rude behavior to patients and their families often are also harsh and condescending to their operating room co-workers. That creates added stress for other doctors, nurses, and techs in the operating room. And it can lead to more errors and harm to patients by the whole health care team.

This means that a surgeon’s bad attitude can make a huge difference in a patient’s outcome.

Are you wondering about what type of increased complications were found in the study?

The authors focused on the types of things that could be avoided when the entire health care team cooperates and works together. They found higher rates of these problems in surgeons with bad manners and attitudes toward their patients:

          Infections where there was a surgical cut or incision in the skin


          Urinary problems

Avoid surgeons who are bullies

These findings are things that I have suspected for years, based on my experience in representing hundreds of clients as a Houston medical malpractice lawyer.

When meeting with clients and family members who have experienced a serious injury or death because of medical malpractice, I frequently hear about how surgeons are bullies and will not listen to them.

Sometimes this rudeness is before a first surgery, when the surgeon wants to rush to the operating room. Other times, the surgeon is abrasive and pushy with patients after family members after something goes wrong during an operation.

The authors of the JAMA Surgery article recommend that patients and family members speak up when a surgeon behaves badly.

If you are not facing an emergency surgery, I encourage you to consider going further. Make a complaint to the hospital administration and ask for a new surgeon.

From surgical errors to a DNR demand

One of the most shocking things that I have heard many times is how a surgeon aggressively tries to get family members to sign a do not resuscitate (DNR) authorization.

A DNR order is something placed in a patient’s medical chart and instructs health care providers not to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the patient’s heart stops beating or stops breathing.

Most people are surprised to learn that Texas law allows a doctor to sign a DNR and place it in a patient’s medical record without permission of the patient or family members. Oftentimes, though, they try to strong-arm family members into agreeing to the DNR first.

Quite often, I believe that surgeons, hospital administrators, and doctors use these uncompassionate and aggressive tactics to cover up their own medical malpractice. In other words, if they can get the family to agree to a DNR, they might get away with their errors and mistakes that caused the life-threatening condition in the first place.

Our medical malpractice attorneys are here to help

If you find yourself being bullied and pressured by a surgeon or hospital to sign a DNR, or you or a loved one has been injured by medical or surgical malpractice, call 281-580-8800 to reach the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm for a free consultation.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.