Have manners, save lives

SurgeryDo you know people who think treating others with respect is old-fashioned, maybe even outdated? Are you one of those people? Probably not, if you’re reading this. But here’s yet more proof that what we say and how we say it can have a ripple effect in the world.

In the July issue of Archives of Surgery, Drs. Andrew S. Klien (MD) and Pier S. Forni (PhD) write that rude surgeons increase healthcare costs and decrease patient and co-worker well-being.

From ScienceDaily.com:

  • A study of 300 operations in which surgeons were ranked for their behavior shows a correlation between civility in the operating room and fewer post-operative deaths and complications.
  • Because co-workers tend to want to avoid a doctor who belittles them, 75 percent of hospital pharmacists and nurses say they try to avoid difficult physicians, even if they have a question about the doctors’ medication orders.
  • Hospitals with high nursing turnover generally have increased medical errors and poorer clinical outcomes. Klein and Forni suggest high turnover should be expected when one survey reports more than two-thirds of nurses assert that physicians verbally abuse them at least once every three months.

Rude behavior from surgeons – or team leaders in other fields – have a physiological effect on the rest of the team, increasing blood pressure and weakening immune systems. Forni says, “Studies show that incivility in the surgical workplace is associated with increased staff sick days and decreased nursing retention, both of which are associated with increased medication errors.”

What’s the solution? (Other than customized CHARACTER COUNTS! programs for hospitals?)

Klein says, “We should place increased emphasis on nontechnical skills such as leadership, communication and situational awareness and teamwork.”

So teach your future leaders manners and start a positive ripple.