Is Today’s Culture of Surgery Putting Patients at Risk?

Surgery is a notoriously difficult medical specialty, and for good reason; the high-stakes nature of the job makes it inherently stressful. Perhaps this explains why surgeons suffer so many mental health issues and are so likely to turn to substance abuse in an effort to cope. Burnout is especially high among surgeons, many of whom simply cannot handle the pressure of the job. But is the job description alone to blame? Or could a negative work culture be making an already difficult position that much worse? We examine these concerns in detail below:

Mistreatment Among Surgical Residents

An anonymous letter submitted to KevinMD.com highlights the role a hostile culture played in depriving the profession of a potentially talented and hardworking surgeon. This former surgical resident claims to have suffered extreme disrespect and even abuse. In multiple surgical rotations, this person was repeatedly yelled at, insulted, and even threatened. Based on this particular anecdote, such behavior is not consistent across niches; in family medicine, the writer found civil treatment, and therefore, a viable career path.

The Consequences of Hostility in Surgery

The anonymous account detailed above is backed up by ample evidence highlighting the hostile nature of surgery. According to the peer-reviewed journal Surgical Neurology International, problematic behavior may sometimes go beyond verbal abuse to include the hurling of equipment or even sexual harassment. This hostility can have an adverse impact on patients, making abused workers more prone to mistakes. Workplace hostility may also prevent the best and the brightest from entering surgery; many instead opt for ‘easier’ niches in which they are treated with the respect they deserve.

A hostile workplace can contribute to negligence in healthcare. If you believe such circumstances were at play in your situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to Regan Zambri Long PLLC. Contact us today to learn more about our medical malpractice services — and to discover how we can help you navigate the complications of the legal process.