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Doctors in Residency Fail Tests of Common Courtesy

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 24, 2013

He adds, "when I'm the attending physician, I walk in on rounds with the whole team, introduce myself and put out my hand to shake the patient's hand, and then make the intern who is going to present the case sit down with the patient in a chair next to the bed. I'm showing them how I think it should be done. And they go, 'You know, that's how Dr. Feldman does it, so I should be doing it that way.'

"We teach this in medical school, but then we don't do a good job following up with that in residency education."

Feldman emphasizes that interns should introduce themselves and engage in all four other behaviors during every patient encounter, even if they have seen the patient before. That's because for any patient hospitalized, the experience "has got to be daunting. They've met several emergency room physicians, the intern that's going to take care of them, the whole Hopkins team that rounds the next morning, possibly a pharmacist, a case manager, social worker, a head floor nurse, senior residents, attendings, and maybe a specialty consultant or surgeon.

"So it shouldn't be a lot for us to take 10 seconds to say who we are. If I introduce myself again and the patient says, 'Of course I know who you are Dr. Feldman,' then I know I've done my job."

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7 comments on "Doctors in Residency Fail Tests of Common Courtesy"


Pamela D. Simons, MD, MBA, FACOG (10/31/2013 at 11:03 PM)
Given the time limitations of service pressure, the frequent lack of a place to sit down, especially in patient rooms, and the emphasis on EHR, which slows down documentation and prevents eye contact, none of this is surprising. Most residents went into medicine to care for and "be with" patients, but the system increasingly prevents this. It was hard enough 20 years ago when I was in training. Now, it's near-impossible. The practice of medicine increasingly resembles working the front counter at McDonald's. Every layer of administrative demand forced on clinicians increases the cost of providing care and forces us to work faster and gives us less time to think or "be with" our patients in order to generate the same compensation.

JS (10/30/2013 at 2:51 PM)
Healthcare is a customer service business, like it or not. In the event of a poor outcome, the provider who showed genuine caring and concern throughout his/her relationship with the patient is less likely to face a law suit than the provider with poor bedside manner. Treat me well as a patient, yeah I probably won't advertise that to all of my friends, but treat me rudely or make me feel like my issue is unimportant, then I will tell all my friends.

Robert Modugno MD MBA FACOG (10/29/2013 at 4:03 PM)
We are a rude society. I am not surprised.