You wait for the doctor to come in to the exam room. The wait seems like an eternity. The table is cold and so are you because the gown is so thin. You wish he would just show up. He does. He barely makes eye contact, writes notes on his computer, hands you a prescription and sends you away with very little conversation. The whole thing feels a bit unsettling.
This experience happens far too often with doctors who are rushed, overworked and pressured to see more patients than they care to see. What can result is prescriptions errors, missed diagnoses and a feeling of distrust. And doctors are feeling the eroding bond between themselves and patients. In a Consumer Reports survey, 70% of doctors felt that since they began practicing medicine, their bond with patients has steadily decreased.
The patient-doctor relationships seems to be eroding. We no longer trust that our doctors have the time to really listen to us and dig deep regarding symptoms. But policy makers and physicians have noticed the decline and have research to support the need for doctor -patient care to be based in a caring trusting connection.
Next time you have a doctor visit, note the following. These are ways doctors can open communication and show care.
Does my doctor…
- greet me by name
- sit down
- attend to my comfort
- establish eye contact
- listen without interrupting
- show attention with nonverbal cues, such as nodding
- allow silences while I search for words
- acknowledge and legitimize my feelings
- explain and reassure me during examinations
- ask explicitly if there are other areas of concern
If you feel hurried, you may want to address the issue. Doctors don’t like overly busy schedules either.