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Communication Disconnects Between Doctors And Patients

Reading the ER Stories blog is often a guilty pleasure for me. Today’s post, however, struck a nerve:

Very often I ask patients about their recent visits to other doctors.  While I am taking a history, it’s important for me to know if you’ve recently been seen by another provider for the same or similar complaints and what they did, what they diagnosed you with, what they prescribed, etc.

I often get a kind of irritated response such as “Oh, he didn’t do anything” or “he said it was nothing” or “he didn’t say anything to me”.  Although I know my share of layzee doctors, I bet the vast majority of times, the doctor DID do something and DID say something.
Just not what the patient either wanted to hear or that their perception or comprehension was wrong.  …

… Now, maybe he is not a good communicator. Maybe he doesn’t have the time to sit there and explain the pathophysiology of viruses or something like benign peripheral vertigo  – and thus you feel short changed. After all he “just asked me a few questions, listened to my lungs and told me to go home and rest”.

Early on in my training I was fortunate to be taught that proper communication is the responsibility of both doctor and patient. So when a patient shows up in my ED and says their last doctor “did nothing”  – when I can see with a few clicks that they got labs, a CT, and two prescriptions — well, there’s a failure to communicate. And the other doctor carries at least some of the blame for this. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*

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