Effective Doctor-Patient Relationship – A Key to Clinical Success
A patient comes to a doctor, voices his complaints, gets his/her vitals checked and in the blink of an eye the doctor hands him a little piece of paper – the prescription. The patient often confounded and uncomfortably aware of his own ignorance gives up on any further questioning and promptly leaves, holding on to that prescription like it is a decree of his health. In his mind, the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan may have been flawless enough to excuse him from making chit chat with patients, but is this only the duty of a doctor? Certainly not! Let’s examine the role of a doctor in a fuller sense.
To effectively heal an ill person, a doctor must first develop a bond with him/her; a bond of care and trust. A doctor not only holds patients’ lives in his hand, but also their confidence, and their complete faith. This is the foundation of a healthy doctor-patient relationship; setting the stage on the doctor’s part, for a better understanding of patients’ symptoms, and on the patient’s part, much better compliance to therapy.
Disregarded by some as a waste of time, getting to know one’s patient as an individual may actually disclose many clues about his/her personal, social and family history that may weigh in on the patient’s medical care.
Conversely, if the doctor shies from actively building a relationship of assured confidentiality and openness, as in scenario illustrated above, the result is huge communication gap between the two. This communication gap leads to doctors missing essential points in patient history, patients being dissatisfied and noncompliant, and ultimately unsuccessful treatment.
Unfortunately in our part of the world, communication with the patient is not considered essential. Perhaps because of high patient-to-doctor ratios and the relentless demands on doctors’ time; or perhaps owing to a narrow minded and mercenary attitude of doctors that the success is counted by the number of prescriptions rather than the satisfaction of a patient.
These barriers should certainly not interfere with our communication processes, and yet they continue to. Our medical universities make every effort to polish our IQ but almost none to improve our EQ , culminating in professionals with high intellect, highly valued degrees but who are incapable of healing the sick merely due to lack of proper communication skills – a tool central to medical training.
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