June 20, 2024

Study: Surgeons cited for unprofessional behavior more frequently than other specialties

Editor's Note

Surgeons are more likely to be reported for unprofessional behavior than any other category of physician, and pediatric specialists are least likely, according to a study published June 6 in Jama Network Open.

Based on data from the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy's Coworker Observation Reporting System (CORS), the findings cover more than 35,000 physicians across 193 hospitals and practice sites from 2018 to 2022. Overall, less than 10% of physicians were reported by cowoekrs for unprofessional behavior, and only 1% showed a pattern. Higher frequency of unprofessional behavior for surgeons was attributed to working in a stressful, high-stakes environment. Examples include name-calling or other verbal disrespect to less common lapses in protocol and procedure.

Study authors emphasized the need for systemic changes to reduce stress and burnout in the healthcare environment. Limitations of the study include potential underreporting due to fear of retaliation and the lack of gender data, despite previous findings indicating women are less likely to be reported.

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