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Can doctors be taught how to talk to patients?

The New York Times, February 28, 2014
Recently one of us attended a daylong retreat designed to help doctors communicate more effectively with patients. The course was taught by a colleague with whom we had consulted in the past on patient-related matters but who was known better by his reputation, which was almost laughably stereotypical: brilliant technically, but stunted when it came to interacting with people. A close family friend with cancer had gone to see him 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."