Poor Bedside Manner can be Dangerous to your Health
March 10, 2017
Data shows that the chance of suffering from post-surgical complications goes up when a surgeon who receives a greater amount of patient complaints performs the surgery. In other words, surgeons with poor bedside manners are not only unpleasant but can actually be dangerous to a patient’s health and surgical aftercare.
The study, conducted by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), outlines how the chance of complications increases by 14% when a rude surgeon is the one seeing the patient. When a surgeon who is considered to be professional and respectful sees a patient, no measurable increase in risk factors was found.
The study measured the behavior of surgeons and patient complaints against them in different ways. One way was to record family and patient complaints against a surgeon for any disrespectful behavior. Various patient relations offices in hospitals recorded these complaints. Many of the recorded, problematic behaviors were shown to contribute to a lack of patient-physician communication. In other words, patients felt intimidated by certain surgeons and felt uncomfortable asking medical questions about their upcoming procedure.
The study utilized information from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. This information included over 32,000 patients at seven different healthcare systems. From this data, it was concluded that 11% of patients had medical complications after surgeries. These complications included pneumonia, renal conditions, cardiovascular conditions, stroke, site infections, thromboembolic conditions, urinary tract infections and sepsis. All of these are serious complications, and some prove to be fatal.
Out of the 11% of patients who experience medical complication post-surgery, the study found that 14% of them have these complications after being seen or practiced on by rude surgeons. This is important information because surgeries are incredibly common throughout the United States. With 27 million surgeries annually, 14% of adverse outcomes would account for nearly 4 million patients who experience complications.
It is highly important for patients and physicians to communicate and to work together on a positive outcome. When a patient is satisfied with how they are being treated, the chances of pursuing a malpractice suit decreases greatly. But litigation aside, when surgeons work well with their teams and communication is open, the likelihood of complications for a patient lessens. This could be because the way that a surgeon communicates with his or her patient could be reflective of how they communicate with other medical professionals in the field. If other medical professionals feel they are constantly met with disrespect, they may become less likely to report patient changes to a surgeon. This breakdown of communication could affect a patient’s health and livelihood.
This area that should be further studied because if the chance of post-surgical complications can be decreased, lives could be saved. While rude behavior should not be tolerated in medical settings, it helps to know that patient complaints are being taken seriously and applied to medical studies to measure the effects. If you feel as though a medical professional is communicating with you in a disrespectful or rude manner, you should not hesitate to report it. Not only is it unacceptable behavior, but also as the JAMA study has shown, it can put your health at risk and lead to serious, even fatal, post-surgical complications.
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