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The Correlation Between Nice Doctors And Healthier Patients

Nobody likes to be treated rudely, especially when this treatment comes from doctors. Medical professionals are expected to be empathetic, care about their patients’ health concerns and communicate effectively in order better a visitor’s experience. Oftentimes, people who endure the mistreatment of some doctors choose to put up with it in the name of quality care. But a new study reveals that the role of bedside manner in doctor-patient relationships may have a detrimental effect on a patient’s health.

According to the study published by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the chances of medical complications such as surgical site infections, pneumonia, renal conditions, urinary tract infections etc. increase by 14% when a patient perceives a surgeon’s attitude as rude. Alternatively, researchers found no quantifiable risk increase in patients who deemed their surgeon as respectful and professional.

Although 14% percent may not seem like a significant margin in patient outcomes, it reflects a huge problem when applied to the large number of medical procedures conducted each year. Gerald Hickson, senior vice president for Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention at the university medical center put these issues into perspective.

“If you take those numbers and distribute them across the United States where 27 million surgical procedures are performed each year, that could represent more than 350,000 surgical site infections, urinary tract infections, sepsis – all kinds of things that we know can be avoided when surgical teams work well together,” Hickson said.

This study also reveals that these rude behaviors also affect surgical teams and their ability to work together. After all, people are more inclined to not perform as well with people who treat them rudely and make them uncomfortable. Tensions that emerge between medical staff and surgical teams also have an adverse effect on the health of a patient, and could increase the risk of malpractice occurring.

“If a surgeon speaks disrespectfully to an anesthesiologist during a procedure, the anesthesiologist may become reluctant to speak up the next time the surgeon and the anesthesiologist work together,” Hickson said.Similarly, if a nurse’s reminder to perform a safety procedure such as a surgical time-out is repeatedly ignored, the nurse may be less likely to continue to share his or her concerns with the surgeon.”

Researchers boil this issue down to the lack of one skill: the ability to show empathy. Studies have shown that modern practitioners are lacking empathy when dealing with patients. When a doctor listens and shows genuine concern for the health of the patients they practice on, patients will feel more comfortable sharing details that they may have not mentioned to a rude physician. The results of exhibiting more empathy in doctor-patient interactions induces more positive health outcomes, experts say.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to the carelessness or recklessness of a medical professional or hospital, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian are devoted to winning you the compensation you deserve. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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