The doctor-patient relationship...WHERE DID IT GO?

We are in a period of rapidly changing healthcare.  From the use of more diagnostic tests TO insurance requirements TO electronic medical records, there is significantly less 1 on 1 time with your doctor.

Does it feel like your doctor is rushing you?  Is your doctor focused on you, another patient, the computer, their own income or documentation?  

What happened to someone actually taking time for another person, especially if that person is in pain?  

There are numerous research studies focusing on the doctor-patient relationship, with varying aspects considered.  One of the most commonly discussed topics is how quickly a doctor interrupts a patient.  On average, it takes about 10-30 seconds.

10-30 seconds of YOU telling the doctor what is going on before they interrupt you.

Regardless of the condition, high blood pressure or knee pain, 10-30 seconds is a very short amount of time.  This equates to essentially a few sentences that a patient can verbalize before being interrupted.
Beyond just the interruption time, what about common sense and compassion?

If  we as healthcare professionals simply slowed down our thought processes, there would most likely be happier patients with better clinical results...which is obviously the point of HEALTHCARE.  Slowing down thinking sounds counter-intuitive, but I should re-phrase this to "RE-FOCUS our thinking".

I see a similar situation occur when my students take the CADAVER lab exam.  To give you an idea of how this works, the student walks up to a cadaver with 4 separate tagged structures and has 3 minutes and 45 seconds to write their answers down before the signal to move to the next cadaver sounds.  An ENTIRE cadaver is in front of the student and probably a million different terms and memorization aids are streaming through their brain.  Instead of getting caught up in these DETAILS and COMPLEXITY, the student needs to SIMPLIFY: quickly FOCUS on the tagged structure, read the question pertaining to it, observe other relevant anatomy and finally RE-FOCUS on the structure to write the appropriate answer.  It is really THAT SIMPLE, students should STOP, THINK, and PROCESS...  Instead, most students STOP, FOCUS HEAVILY on ONE concept, and MISS important clues...
Right Lower Trapezius muscle on cadaver
I believe that a similar situation occurs between a doctor and patient.

Obviously this is not the EXACT same thing, but bear with me...

Doctors begin interacting with a patient, FOCUS on ONE concept, MISS possibly important indications for other conditions, and are DONE.  

I am guilty of interrupting, focusing too heavily on ONE concept and moving on to the next thing.  Next time you are in my office or another clinician's office, please understand we too have faults.  Human fallibility cannot be un-trained or educated out of us, it is human to make mistakes.

However, healthcare professionals can and should be conscious of the sometimes deplorable patient interaction.  I understand we are all very busy people, but licensed healthcare professionals have a code of ethics to uphold when it comes to clinical encounters.  

When you feel like you are not being heard by your doctor OR being rushed to get to the point, calmly remind the clinician that you would like to get to the core of the problem and spend a little time developing a trusting relationship.

Have a great week everyone!

Be Blessed!
-Anatomy Geek



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    Erik Korzen DC is a chiropractic physician and educator.  He is passionate about re-defining the chiropractic profession and is somewhat of an "Anatomy Geek".


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