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Doctors don't always see communication problems

Communication is incredibly important to the doctor-patient relationship. Documents provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information note that doctors who have good people skills and good relationships with their patients have a better chance of offering an accurate diagnosis, providing appropriate counsel, offering helpful therapeutic instructions, and building positive relationships that help with the care the patients are receiving.

Unfortunately, patients do not always get the communication they desire and do not always have the close relationships with their doctors that can be beneficial to their health. Repeatedly, surveys have demonstrated that they want better overall communication with medical professionals.

One reason they may not get it is that doctors don't see the issues and sometimes overestimate their own level of skill in this area. For example, one study discovered that a mere 21 percent of patients said they were satisfied with the communication with their orthopedic surgeons. The same survey, though, found that a full 75 percent of those surgeons felt they'd done enough and communicated satisfactorily with those under their care.

The reason that good communication leads to an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment is often that patients who feel confident in their doctors and who can speak to them easily are more likely to provide the doctors with pertinent information that then plays into the diagnosis. It's clear that doctors can't learn everything from exams, charts, and scans, but must also learn to talk to their patients to avoid medical mistakes and delays.

Did poor communication from your doctor lead to an error that negatively impacted your health and treatment options? If so, it may be wise to look into your rights to compensation, as you deserve a high level of care and could be compensated if it's not provided.

Source: NCBI, "Doctor-Patient Communication: A Review," Jennifer Fong Ha, accessed Feb. 20, 2017

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