Association of coworker reports about unprofessional behavior by surgeons with surgical complications in their patients.
Physicians who behave unprofessionally toward other health care workers compromise both safety culture and patient health. Hostile behavior among surgeons is particularly harmful because surgical care is both teamwork-dependent and has high stakes. Although many have reported anecdotally that disrespectful surgeon behavior has led to patient harm, it is challenging to study systematically. Investigators sought to determine whether patients whose surgeons had coworker reports of unprofessional behavior experienced more harm. Surgeons at two academic medical centers who had coworker reports of unprofessional behavior in the 3 years before a surgery were more likely to have patients experience both medical and surgical complications after the surgery. These findings highlight the importance of empowering team members to report unprofessional behavior so that it can be remediated. Two WebM&M commentaries describe different approaches to addressing unprofessional physician behavior.