The disruptive orthopaedic surgeon: Implications for patient safety and malpractice liability

Pranay Patel, Brooke S. Robinson, Wendy M. Novicoff, Gary L. Dunnington, Michael J. Brenner, Khaled J. Saleh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

22 Scopus citations


Disruptive physician behavior imperils patient safety, erodes the morale of other health care providers, and dramatically increases the risk of malpractice litigation. Increasing patient volume, decreasing physician reimbursement, malpractice litigation, elevated stress, and growing job dissatisfaction have been implicated in disruptive behavior, which has emerged as one of the major challenges in health care. Because the aging patient population relies increasingly on orthopaedic services to maintain quality of life, improving professionalism and eradicating disruptive behavior are urgent concerns in orthopaedic surgery. Although many steps have been taken by The Joint Commission to improve patient care and define disruptive behavior, there is further room for improvement by physicians. Barriers to eliminating disruptive behavior by orthopaedic surgeons include fear of retaliation, lack of awareness among the surgeon's peers, and financial factors. Surgeons have a duty to address patterns of negative peer behavior for the benefit of patient care. This manuscript addresses the causes and consequences of disruptive physician behavior as well as management strategies, especially in orthopaedic surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e126.1-e126.6
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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