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Doctors in Residency Fail Tests of Common Courtesy

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 24, 2013

One project that has been tried at Johns Hopkins Hospital's pediatric department is called "face sheets." Patients and their families are given a page with photos of every physician on the patient's care team with their titles, and a description of their role in that patient's care. "You hand that out when you meet the patient for the first time as if to say, 'Here I am on this piece of paper, and you can look at the back and see what I do."

Feldman says that something so simple as placement of a chair by the bed that the intern can sit on to be at eye-level with the patient can help enormously.

That's done so infrequently now that when Feldman finds a chair and sits with a patient, they often ask if something's wrong, "Am I going to die?"

"They shouldn't think something terrible is going on because someone is taking the time to just sit with the patient," he says. "That's some of the culture we need to change. Patients should expect us to sit with them.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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.