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Chicago Medical Malpractice May Be Caused By Uncivil Doctors

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know that medical errors remain prevalent for a variety of reasons. Doctors who try to cut corners, nursing assistants who are not properly trained, and many other factors cause medical mistakes to strike on a daily basis across the country. The consequences of these preventable mistakes can be deadly. The high-stakes make it imperative that as much effort as possible be focused on understanding the reasons for the problem and taking steps to eliminate them.

A comprehensive effort to improve medical care considers all possibilities. For example, in many cases the problem is not necessarily linked to competence. In other words, most doctors, nurses, and assistants who make these errors know what the right action is but fail to do it. The error is simply a lapse in judgment at a particular time, even though the professionals would not make the same mistake in most cases.

A new commentary published last month in the Archives of Surgery and summarized by Modern Medicine added one more possible factor in medical mistakes: bad manners. The commentary explains how a surgeon’s poor behavior in an operating room when interacting with other medical staff members has effects on the care received by the unsuspecting patient. The civility of the surgeon was also found to have effects on overall healthcare costs as well as patient and staff satisfaction levels.

The author of the study explained how operating rooms, like virtually all work environments, are social spaces. As such, an important factor in the success (or lack of a success) of that work environment is the way in which those involved interact with one another. In the surgical context the surgeon is essentially “the boss” and in a position of power and control. When the surgeon is rude, belittles the staff, or engages in other uncivil habits, then the entire work environment is affected. Problems in this regard must be considered unacceptable in the operating room, because unlike regular businesses, problems during surgery can be the difference between life and death.

In fact, several studies have linked the bad manners of physician to deficiencies in patient care. One study ranked physicians based on their civility in 300 operations. The results showed that those surgeons who were more civil had more positive surgical outcomes, with the patients experiencing fewer postoperative deaths and complications. Fewer post-operation complications, besides saving lives, also has the effect of lowering healthcare costs by necessitating less expensive follow-up care.

Similarly, a survey of hospital staff members showed that three out of four nurses admit that they try to avoid physicians who are known to be “difficult.” Even when a nurse may have questions about a doctor’s medication orders, they may avoid asking for clarification in an effort to avoid interacting with the bad-mannered doctor.

Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers remain interested in all research efforts seeking to understand how Illinois medical mistakes arise and how they can be prevented. It is important for resources to be focused on improving medical care, instead of diverted into misguided attempts to take away the rights of medical victims.

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