Does your doctor interrupt you when you are explaining your health concerns? If the answer is no, you may be one of the lucky ones. On average, doctors in Minnesota and Wisconsin spend an average of just eleven seconds listening before they interrupt a patient according to the latest research on the subject.
In a press release, Naykky Singh Ospina, one of the authors of the study, summed up many of our thoughts on the results:
“Even in a specialty visit concerning a specific matter, it is invaluable to understand why the patients think they are at the appointment and what specific concerns they have related to the condition or its management.
If done respectfully and with the patient’s best interest in mind, interruptions to the patient’s discourse may clarify or focus the conversation, and thus benefit patients. Yet, it seems rather unlikely that an interruption, even to clarify or focus, could be beneficial at the early stage in the encounter.”
The researchers only focused on how long it took the doctor to interrupt the patient if they were responding to a question such as “What can I do for you today?” or “What brings you here today?”
Do you think you thoroughly explain your reasons for a doctor’s visit in under eleven seconds?
More than two-thirds of patients were interrupted in the study. Only a little over one-third of doctors asked questions that would have allowed the patient to direct the focus of the discussion. Even fewer physicians asked questions if they were a specialist. In fact, when it came to specialist visits, eight out of ten patients were interrupted when and if they did get to explain their reason for visiting.
Appointments also tended to be longer if the patient was allowed to explain why they were there at the beginning of the visit. When choosing a doctor, it may be worth looking into how much time they spend with each patient. If they have time constraints or are simply burnt out, you may end up with a doctor who makes decisions without all available information from one very important source – you, the patient.
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