Doctor patient communication
The Archives of Internal Medicine reports that communication between doctors and patients isn’t always what it should be. The study of 89 hospitalized patients found:
- Of the 73% of patients who thought there was 1 main physician, only 18% could name the physician
- Only 67% of the physicians thought patients knew their names
- Only 57% of patients knew their diagnosis
- Only 21% of physicians said they always provided explanations of some kind
- 90% of patients getting a new medication said they were never told about any side effects
The researchers concluded that steps to improve patient-physician communication should be identified and implemented. Boy, is that an understatement!
To start, perhaps doctors could leave each patient a business card with the doctor’s name on the card. That would help patients know their doctors’ names. Even better, have a line on the card where the diagnosis could be written. I’d include the doctor’s cell phone and e-mail address to help enhance communication between the doctor and the patient and their family. And perhaps the doctor ought to have a checklist of things to do so that whenever a new prescription is given, the patient is given a written explanation about the medication, including the potential side effects to look out for.
Of course it would help for every patient to be given the opportunity to give their doctor feedback through a system like www.DrScore.com to identify these kinds of problems and solutions to them ASAP. A “Please give me feedback at http://www.DrScore.com” would be a nice addition to that business card.
We are so invested in improving medical care, with billions and billions of dollars going to the development of new treatments that may someday help someone. Just a little common sense and some inexpensive solutions could be done right now to enhance the care that most patients receive.