“A close family friend with cancer had gone to see him (a renowned physician) some years back. When the friend started asking questions about the treatment plan, the doctor had stopped him midsentence, glared at him and said, “If you ask one more question, I’ll refuse to treat you.”
“What could I do?” the friend later said. “He’s the best, and I wanted him to take care of me, so I shut up.”
A wealth of research suggests that physician communication about important topics like end-of-life care is associated with a better quality of life for patients, and a better quality of dying, with less intensive use of unnecessary tests and treatments.
Physicians and medical students often have limited insight into how they come across when talking with patients, and little opportunity for formal feedback. While most doctors really are invested in their patients making the right decisions for their circumstances, many lack the skills to show that they care. After all, their admission to medical school was not based on a validated assessment of their ability to relate to other human beings.
In response to the growing recognition that effective communication with patients is a basic competency of our profession, and that doctors often have inadequate training in it, medical schools and hospitals have invested substantial resources over the past decade to teaching communication skills.”
*to read the full NYT article “Can Doctors Be Taught How to Talk to Patients?” by Timothy D. Gilligan and Mikkaela A. Sekeres highlight and click on open hyperlink http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/27/can-doctors-be-taught-how-to-talk-to-patients/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0