medical schools reinforcing the importance of bedside manner

The unfortunate reality is that many of us have experienced what could best be described as brusque or perhaps even impolite treatment at the hands of a physician. In fact, chances are very good that this rude conduct left you feeling uninformed, agitated and anxious to get a second opinion.

As it turns out, the faculties at medical schools around the country are recognizing just how detrimental a poor bedside manner can be for the physician and, more importantly, the patient.

To illustrate, researchers at Michigan State University have found that patients who trust in and feel empathy from their physicians often experience positive reactions in the brain concerning both stress management and pain tolerance. Furthermore, earlier research has definitively demonstrated that those patients who like their physicians — i.e., whose physicians have a good bedside manner — are more likely to experience positive outcomes and comply with treatment regimens.

Given these eye-opening findings, medical schools are starting to introduce programs in which medical students provide treatment to actors portraying sick patients. Here, instructors monitor the interactions carefully and assign grades based on the level of compassion and communication shown.

“Communication is important because you have to have the patient build trust in you and have them be comfortable enough to sometimes share really personal things that you as a physician need to know in order to help them,” said a third-year medical student at Creighton University.

There is no disputing that programs such as these can only serve to make patients feel more at ease during otherwise difficult times. However, what patients must always remember is that their physicians are obligated to provide them with safe and effective care that complies with accepted medical standards. Just because a physician treats you nicely or is willing to make small talk doesn’t ever excuse this obligation, and if you are hurt by the physician’s negligence, you need to understand that you have options for seeking the justice you deserve.

Please visit our website to learn more about medical malpractice.

Source: ABC-7, “Compassion in healthcare: Improving bedside manner in doctors,” May 29, 2013

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