Interesting article in the Daily Telegraph recently.  An NHS patient survey has revealed the large proportion of patients who complain that doctors do not build an effective relationship with them during a consultation.

So how long were you lying on the floor before you regained consciousness?

So how long were you lying on the floor before you regained consciousness?

They don’t look up from the screen while talking to you, or wander off without saying anything.  This sounds like basic bad manners to me, and one wonders where the behaviour might come from.

According to the article “apparently two thirds of claims against doctors come from patients with no adverse outcomes or evidence of negligence – it’s simply that they feel their care wasn’t adequate.  By contrast, patients who feel well treated very rarely sue, even when errors are made.  For everyone’s sake, it’s time doctors “learnt truly to listen.”

I’m amazed at this.  If someone has found a correlation between numbers of claims against the practice and weak relationship building by doctors, you’d think  that there would be a mandatory “Build your Bedside Manners” course for each and every one of them.  Failure to pass the course results in removal of your stethoscope.

I have always said (and those that know me professionally would say “banged on” would be more accurate), that if you get the Relationship side right in any given transaction with another human, the rest falls in to place more easily.

  •  When you negotiate, get the trust in place, find out about each other’s context and agree what mutual gains we are seeking, and the Win/Win result will follow.
  •  When dealing with a complaint, show the other party that you hear them, and that you care, and the emotion will flow away so that you can deal calmly with the facts.
  • When you sell, understanding what is important to the buyer enables you to talk about only the benefits that the buyer cares about
  • When you make a presentation, finding out what the audience cares about and adjusting your style to their will help you to connect with them.

Gestresster Arzt mit Uhr vor sich hat Migräne wegen ZeitdruckDoctors must surely know this?  So why would they ignore it?  Especially if they recognise how if they get it wrong it can lead to complaints?  Could it be to do with lack of time and constantly operating against the clock?  Asking the patient what questions or concerns they may have would take time, I guess, and if you’ve only 8 minutes per consultation, it’s a nicety which falls by the wayside.

Hmmmm.  I wonder.  How long does it take to look up from your screen, make eye contact and smile?

The thing is, this is evidence of dysfunctionality and further erosion of human relationships in the medical world.  Is the equivalent  breakdown going on in the world you inhabit?  Is it nibbling away, dragging you inexorably towards a more autistic and sterile working environment, where results and deliverables are key, and relationships are the victim?  I can certainly recognise it around me, and am guilty as charged at times.

We’re all doomed.  I’m giving away free cyanide tablets to anyone who subscribes this week.  Alternatively let me invite you to fight back in some way.  Pick up the phone at least  once today when your default would have been to send an email.  Go one, spread a little happiness and love!  You’ve still got SOME left, haven’t you?


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