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You do not need to read surveys to find out that their is a huge disparity between how effective a doctor(medical care provider)  feels he/she is AND what how the patient feels. Physicians’ bedside manner is not taught in medical school although some medical schools are trying to screen for a more compassionate outward caring candidate to admit.

For profit Mayo Clinic* id’ed seven ‘ideal physician behaviors: confidence, empathy, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough. Although this is from a 2006 publication I believe it is still valid today.

There is a definite need for ‘active’ communication that is: not one-way, non-eye contact while performing another task. Exchange is the operative work I feel, after all a patient entrusts their body even life for that matter to a doctor!

Empathy is another valuable tool; a good doctor does not take the judgmental tone in asking about alcohol or drug use. Remember the doctor uses an electronic record and records often using quotes that are the patient’s words. There is a flip side – an accurate medical background is important if one drink a 6 pack a day –  truth be told!  Bottom line: going in for surgery to repair a fractured arm w/o the anesthesiologist knowing  regular alcohol intake could put a life in jeopardy.

Medical encounters have become a bit more testy lately:

—- enter the www – information & data so much BUT can at times be inaccurate,

—- time constraints -shortage with electronic recording (electronic health record – EHR) mandated. Let us not discount totally the financially incentives set by insurers. Make a mental note of contact time and watch out for the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) report your insurance sends  –  look at the fees carefully and think back how long you were with your provider. Think payment amount (include co-pay) for time with provider! If you do not have health insurance time spent versus what you are asked for at check out.

Health is priceless but how do we get there? You are your own best advocate!

*Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2006:81(3)