Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chatty Doctors

Wow, I read an article in the New York Times on "Chatty Doctors" and had to gulp and wonder if I have ever done that. It seems researchers videotaped 100 primary care doctor-patient interactions and they found the doctors talked about themselves in 1/3 of the visits. This wouldn't be so bad except they never circled back to the patient's issues and wasted a lot of the precious visit time chatting about their own issues.

For instance, one doctor talked about his vacation in Italy and another about his own struggle with loosing weight. Far from being a "connection", it seems the physician's self disclosure didn't really tie back to the patient issues. Four out of five times the doctor never resumed the topic they were discussing before the interruption.

Of course, I had to think back on a recent patient visit where my patient had just returned from a safari in Africa. Since that is a trip I would like to take, I certainly peppered him with travel questions and we spent a great deal of time talking about the best locations. My only saving grace is that I was quite aware of this being "his" time and I assured him that he was my last patient and we would have lots of time for the exam and his issues. Did I justify my chattiness? I guess I better check back with him and make sure.


Anonymous said...

It can be nice to get to know your doctor as a real person and his or her interests which can help build a "connection" as long as it is a mutual feeling and medical issues are taken care of. Also when this happens the medical issue time should be what is charged without the social visiting addded to the fee.

I used to have a doctor where we discussed interesting experiances and related on an additional level besides medical issues.

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