Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

All Fall Down

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

All Fall Down

Article excerpt

If we can trust recent public surveys, what we have in these United States are some serious failures to communicate - between doctors and their patients, and between health care experts and the general public.

For some time now patients have been complaining about their relationships with doctors. A poll conducted in 1990 by Miles Inc. revealed that dissatisfaction with a physician led one in four patients to switch doctors at least once. And more recently surveys by the American Medical Association and the Harris organization have shown that patients are losing their faith in physicians who, they feel, are greedy and arrogant, don't spend enough time with them, and are either unwilling or unable to offer clear explanations (Sonia L. Nazario, "Medical Science Seeks a Cure for Doctors, ..." Wall Street Journal, 17 March 1992).

The National Board of Medical Examiners is exploring ways to improve the situation. In a pilot program underway at the University of Southern California and the University of Illinois, medical students are being tested not only on their clinical competence, but on compassion and bedside manner as well. Graduating students examine sixteen mock patients with different "ailments." The "patients" in turn grade the would-be healers, using a checklist to score doctors' questions during the fifteen-minute exams, and a five-point scale to evaluate the "warm-and-fuzzy factor" of interpersonal skills. Just what - or how much - being able to pass the exam actually says about students' future performance with real patients in the less-than-ideal world of clinical practice is still an open question. The program at least takes patients' complaints seriously and lets students know they have to try.

Similar discontents seem to be at issue at the opposite end of the communication spectrum. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.