The Management of the Doctor-Patient Relationship

The Management of the Doctor-Patient Relationship

The Management of the Doctor-Patient Relationship

The Management of the Doctor-Patient Relationship


Why should the doctor be concerned about the doctor-patient relationship? It is because the relationship between doctor and patient is crucial to the successful practice of medicine. Why should the doctor worry about preventing patient dissatisfaction? It is because patient dissatisfaction leads to therapeutic failures and to a host of unpleasant personal consequences for both doctor and patient.

Of particular concern today is the fact that patient dissatisfaction with doctors is growing dangerously greater. There are a number of signs and symptoms which show that the doctor-patient relationship is in need of strengthening. Here are some startling facts and figures:

Sixty-four per cent of all patients (adult urban dwellers) criticize the way doctors conduct the doctor-patient relationship. They say modern doctors lack human warmth. Patients may be satisfied with the quality of medical care, but they dislike the way it is given [1].

Seventy-one per cent of all (adult) patients criticize the personal care and attention which they get in hospitals. Most patients have a "virulent dislike for the care they had received" in hospitals [1, 2].

Seventy per cent of the population approve the use of nonmedical healers, including chiropractors and quacks [1].

Fifty per cent of all patients have at one time or another quit their doctor because they were dissatisfied with the doctor [1, 3].

An average 15 per cent of all patients fail to pay their doctor's bills [4]. The main reason why patients fail to pay their doctor bills is that these patients are angry with their doctor. Their anger arises from a breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship [5].

Medical malpractice suits are ever more frequent. In a recent 8-year period, malpractice premiums rose 200 per cent. Future increases may rise at an even faster rate [6]. Studies have shown that the malpractice suit itself is a dramatic symptom of the breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship. A malpractice suit often occurs without any actual medical malpractice. It inevitably reflects patient dissatisfaction with the doctor [3, 7].

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