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So Many Patient Complaints, Not Enough Time

Primary care physicians often have to see patients with a litany of issues — often within a span of a 15-minute office visit.

This places the doctor in the middle of a tension: Spend more time with the patient to address all of the concerns, but risk the wrath of patients scheduled afterwards, who are then forced to wait. And in some cases, it’s simply impossible to adequately address every patient question during a given visit.

It’s a situation that internist Danielle Ofri wrote recently about in the New York Times. In her essay, she describes a patient, who she initially classified as the “worried well” type:

… a thin, 50-year-old educated woman with a long litany of nonspecific, unrelated complaints and tight worry lines carved into her face. She unfolded a sheet of paper on that Thursday morning in my office with a brisk snap, and my heart sank as I saw 30 lines of hand-printed concerns.

Ms. W. told me that she had recently started smoking again, after her elderly mother became ill, and she was up to a pack a day now. She had headaches, eye pain, pounding in her ears, shortness of breath and dizziness. Her throat felt dry when she swallowed, and she had needling sensations in her chest and tightness in her gut. She couldn’t fall asleep at night. And she really, really wanted a cigarette, she told me, nervously eying the door.

This is the kind of patient who makes me feel as though I’m drowning.

Dr. Ofri did as many doctors do: She listened appropriately, went over the patient’s history and physical, reviewed prior tests, and concluded that many of her symptoms were due to anxiety. Except, in this case, they weren’t. The patient eventually had a pulmonary embolus, and hospitalized. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Doctor Suing For Bad Ratings Online

Dr. Kimberly HenryI must say I think Dr. Kimberly Henry, cosmetic surgeon, has made a big professional mistake. She has filed a lawsuit to stop online reviewers from badmouthing her on the Internet. She is seeking injunctions against at least 12 reviewers from sites such as and Dr. Henry claims libel and defamation, invasion of privacy and interference with prospective economic advantage and is seeking $1million in general damages and $1million in special damages, etc.

Now I don’t know Dr. Henry nor do I know of her plastic surgery technique. I don’t know who the disgruntled patients are or if they are unfairly targeting her. What I do know is that the Internet is here to stay and there’s no place to hide if you don’t provide excellent customer service. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

How Patient Complaints Affect Defensive Medicine

Doctors often have a communication disconnect with their patients. A recent piece from the New York Times encapsulates the issue, citing a recent New England Journal of Medicine perspective.

According to oncologist Ethan Basch, “Direct reports from patients are rarely used during drug approval or in clinical trials. If patients’ comments are sought at all, they are usually filtered through doctors and nurses, who write their own impressions of what the patients are feeling.”

There are a variety of reasons for this. Some doctors feel they have a better sense of the patient’s symptoms than the patient himself. Biases can affect how doctors and nurses perceive symptoms. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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