Sunday, July 08, 2007

How Doctors Forget Who Is the Patient

According to research published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, it is not uncommon for physicians to share personal information that in no way helps the patient. The study involved 100 primary-care doctors in Rochester, New York, who agreed to being visited at some point during the year by an anonymous individual posing as a patient. Recordings of these visits were made and showed that a third of doctors made disclosures about themselves that in no way benefited the patient. In some cases these disclosures were distracting and actually prevented the physician from completing the examination. In fact, four out of five times when the doctor interjected personal information -- a recent vacation, a similar injury, etc. -- the conversation never returned to the topic being discussed prior to the interruption. Whether or not this means that doctors need more social support or mistakenly see these disclosures as helping to build rapport, patients are cautioned to make sure that their own needs are met by the end of the visit.


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