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Doctors And Patients Wish Their Relationship Was Better

Physicians said in a survey that noncompliance with advice or treatment recommendations was their foremost complaint about their patients. Most said it affected their ability to provide optimal care and more 37 percent said it did so “a lot.”

Three-quarters of patients said they were highly satisfied with their doctors. But they still had complaints ranging from long wait times to ineffective treatments.

Those are just some of the findings from two surveys, the first a poll of 660 primary care physicians conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in September 2010 and the second a poll of 49,000 Consumer Reports subscribers in 2009. The magazine reported its results online.

In the doctors’ poll, physicians named these top challenges:

– 76 percent of doctors said when it came to getting better medical care, forming a long-term relationship with a primary care physician would help “very much.”

– 61 percent said being respectful and courteous toward doctors would help “very much,” while 70 percent said respect and appreciation from patients had gotten “a little” or “much” worse since they had started practicing medicine. This was a two-way street, since patients reported the same feelings.

– 42 percent physicians said health plan rules and regulations interfered “a lot” with the care they provided.

Also noted in the poll, 37 percent of physicians thought they were “very” effective when it comes to minimizing pain and discomfort for their patients, though 97 percent thought they were “somewhat” effective. But, 79 percent of patients said their doctor helped to minimize their pain or discomfort, according to the Consumer Reports blog. The gap might be explained by doctors thinking of their overall effectiveness with all of their patients, including those with chronic pain conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat, and who are as a group less satisfied with their physicians. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Why Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Do A Background Check

The journey to a healthy pregnancy and delivery begins with the selection of a healthcare provider, and the challenge is to find the right one. This is the person who will be in charge of your pregnancy up until the time of the delivery, so it certainly is not a casual date. For the next 280 days your life and the life of your unborn child will be in this person’s hands. A background check is therefore in order.

One of the best ways to find the right healthcare provider is by word-of-mouth referral from neighbors, friends, or family members however please don’t stop there. Labor and delivery nurses are also a great source of referral because they have seen physicians and midwives under their most vulnerable and challenging moments.

Don’t feel intimidated about checking a provider’s credentials — this is public information. You can find out whether the provider’s medical license is current or expired. You’ll also be able to obtain information on whether the provider has ever been disciplined by the board for medical malpractice or unprofessional behavior or misconduct. Healthcare providers are not exempt from problems with alcoholism, drug addiction, professional incompetence, and unprofessional or unethical behaviors. Although less than five percent of healthcare providers have egregious problems, you want to make certain that your provider is not one of them. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

A Second Opinion Is Good, But A Third Or Fourth?

A few years ago I started writing a book on what it was like to be a cancer patient and an oncologist. This morning I came upon this section on second opinions:

Is It OK To Get A Second Opinion?

Definitely. And there’s no need to be secretive about it, or to worry about hurting the doctor’s feelings. Second opinions are routine in fields like oncology, and are often covered by insurance. Be up-front: Any decent oncologist can understand a cancer patient’s need to find a doctor who’s right for them, with whom they’re comfortable making important decisions. And in difficult cases, some specialists appreciate the chance to discuss the situation with another expert. So a second opinion can be beneficial to patients and physicians alike.

When things can get out of hand, though, is when patients start “doctor shopping.” For example, I’ve cared for some patients with leukemia who’ve been to see over 10 oncol­o­gists. If you’re acutely sick, this sort of approach to illness can be coun­ter­pro­ductive — it can delay needed therapy. From the physician’s per­spective, it’s alien­ating: Who wants to invest her time, intel­lectual effort, and feelings for a patient who’s unlikely to follow up? Besides, oncology is the sort of field where each con­sulting doctor may have a dis­tinct opinion. (If you see 10 oncol­o­gists, you may get 10 opinions.) Beyond a certain point, it may not help to get more input, but instead will cloud the issue. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*

How To Choose A Great Doctor

As a practicing family doctor, it’s easy for me to figure out how to choose a great doctor. Let me tell you the secrets in finding the best one for you and what I tell my family and friends. Look for the following:

– Board certification
– Report card on quality
– Licensing/public reporting

As a doctor, I know many doctors who have great bedside manner but aren’t particularly reliable in giving the right medical care you deserve, and these traits separate the so-so doctors from the truly excellent ones. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Latest Interviews

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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