Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

What Doctors Are Telling Us Even When They’re Not Talking

English: Livingston, TX, 9/25/05 -- A doctor t...

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Am thinking…how does one be compassionate to a doctor who lacks good communication skills?
And how does one draw out needed information from the same doctor when one is in a confused state of mind?
Maybe a communication and or/ life skills class in high school should be required that includes body language?

From the 9 February 2012 New York Times article

…For nearly two decades, teaching good communication skills has beenmandatory for medical schools because of research showing that good patient-doctor communication can lead to improved patient satisfaction and better health care outcomes. To this end, medical educators have developed a host of communication courses and workshops that combine lectures, self-assessments, video recordings and “standardized patients,” or actors in the role of patients.

More recently, many schools have broadened their courses to include “cultural competency,” or the ability to communicate with those from different racial, ethnic and social backgrounds. Studies have shown that while a patient’s race and ethnicity can be linked to sharply different treatment courses and quality, better communication between doctors and patients of different backgrounds can reduce the disparities.

Despite these tremendous efforts, there is one area of communication to which few schools have devoted significant time or resources: body language and facial expressions.

 In this recent study, for example, a group of medical sociologists analyzed the interactions between 30 primary care doctors and more than 200 patients over age 65 and found that white physicians tended to treat older patients similarly, regardless of race. Black physicians, on the other hand, often gave white patients contradictory signals, mixing positive nonverbal behaviors, like prolonged smiling or eye contact, with negative ones, like creating physical barriers by crossing the arms or legs….
  • What Doctors Are Telling Us Even When They’re Not Talking (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
  • Doctors may paint overly rosy prognosis (cbc.ca)
  • Study Finds Doctors Not Always Honest With Patients (dfw.cbslocal.com)
  • Study finds doctors aren’t always honest with patients (mercurynews.com)
  • 1 in 10 Doctors Admit Lying in the Past Year (livescience.com)
  • Many doctors in survey admit they have lied to their patients (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
  • Study finds MDs not always honest with patients (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
  • Skills in medicine (slideshare.net)
  • Doctors’ Honesty Put to the Test (webmd.com)
  • Some physicians do not agree with, uphold standards on communication with patients (Eureka News Alert)

    A significant minority of physicians responding to a national survey disagreed with or admitted not upholding accepted standards of professionalism for open and honest communication with patients. In the February issue of Health Affairs, investigators from the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that, among other findings, one fifth of respondents indicated they had not fully disclosed a medical error out of concern for malpractice lawsuits and about one tenth admitted telling a patient something that was not true during the preceding year….

    Five questions on the survey specifically addressed attitudes related to communication – including whether physicians should fully inform patients of the risks and benefits of their treatments, disclose all significant medical errors to patients and always keep patient information confidential – and four addressed what respondents had actually done in the preceding year. The survey was sent to 3,500 U.S. physicians – 500 each in internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, cardiology, general surgery, psychiatry and anesthesia – and almost 1,900 surveys were completed and returned.

    The overhelming majority of respondents agreed that physicians should completely inform patients about risks and benefits, never disclose confidential information and never tell a patient something untrue. While 66 percent agreed that all significant medical errors should be disclosed to affected patients, one third did not completely agree. Also, about one third did not agree that financial relationships with drug and device companies should always be disclosed. When asked about their own behavior in the preceding year, almost 20 percent admitted not fully disclosing a medical error for fear of being sued,[my emphasis] 28 percent admitted revealing a patient’s health information to an unauthorized person, and 11 percent responded that they had told a patient or the parent of a child something that was not true.

February 10, 2012 - Posted by | health care | , , ,

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