Communication Gap Seen Between Patients, Doctors

What doctors think they are telling hospital patients, and what those patients actually hear, may be very different, a small study suggests.

The findings, from a study of 89 patients at one U.S. hospital, add to research showing that doctors and patients are often not on the same page when discussing diagnoses and treatment.

In interviews with the patients on the day of their discharge, researchers found that only 18 percent even knew the name of the main physician in charge of their hospital care. Meanwhile, just 57 percent left the hospital knowing what their diagnosis was.

In contrast, two-thirds of the 43 physicians interviewed thought their patients knew their name, and 77 percent believed their patients were aware of their diagnosis.

Drs. Douglas P. Olson and Donna M. Windish of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, report the results in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The finding that many patients were unsure of their diagnosis or their doctor’s name may sound surprising, but it is not new, according to Olson. Past studies have found that the majority of hospital patients cannot name their main physician, and frequently cannot name their medical problem.

However, the current study also shows that many doctors mistakenly believe their patients know more than they do.

“What’s new here is the discrepancy between doctors and patients,” Olson told Reuters Health. “Patients aren’t really getting the take-home message.”

The communication gaps go beyond names and diagnoses, the study found. Of patients in this study who were prescribed a new medication during their hospital stay, one-quarter said their doctor never told them about it. And very few — 10 percent — said their doctor discussed the drug’s potential side effects with them.

In contrast, all physicians in the study said they at least sometimes told patients about any new prescriptions, and 81 percent said they described the possible side effects at least some of the time.

In recent years, the medical community has increasingly focused on improving doctor-patient communication. In residency programs at academic hospitals, for instance, doctors-in-training are taught to include patients in discussions rather than talking amongst themselves in front of patients, Olson pointed out.

“But there’s still a disconnect,” he said, adding that even when patients say they understand, that often turns out not to be the case.

One explanation, according to Olson, may be that many hospitalized patients are elderly and have complex medical problems — not just one diagnosis, but several co-existing health conditions — and the information they receive during their stay “could understandably be overwhelming.”

And compared with 30 or 40 years ago, Olson noted, patients’ hospital stays are now typically much shorter; that leaves them with less time to absorb and fully understand information about their condition and any treatment changes.

One potential way to address the communication gaps would be to give patients and families written information, in addition to spoken explanations, during the hospital stay — and not only at discharge, Olson said.

“It’s important for us to take a step back and see how some system changes might improve communication,” he said.

Steps patients and their family members can take include writing down any questions as they come up so they can raise them with the doctor later, according to Olson.

Family involvement is important, he noted, particularly for older patients with more complex medical problems and multiple medications.

“How is my life going to be different when I leave the hospital?” is a good general question that patients can ask their doctors, Olson recommends. It can help start a discussion about a range of concerns, including any lifestyle adjustments and medication changes that need to be made, he said.

Olson also advised that patients lacking a primary care doctor get the number of someone at the hospital whom they can call with any questions after they are discharged.

71 thoughts on “Communication Gap Seen Between Patients, Doctors

  1. Hey your site looks a little bit strange in Mozilla on computer with Linux .

  2. I think I’ve discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it.

  3. Just killing some in between class time on Stumbleupon and I found your entry. Not normally what I like to read about, but it was certainly worth my time. Thanks.

  4. It amazes me how far people will go to try to come up with SOO MUCH BULLSHIT when they try to fake interest to get a link….MAN’

  5. To start earning money with your blog, initially use Google Adsense but gradually as your traffic increases, keep adding more and more money making programs to your site.

  6. I would like to thank you for your efforts you’ve made in composing this post. I am hoping the exact same best work from you also in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities have inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now.

  7. I’d personally like to adhere to this webpage with my twitter. How am i able to do this?

  8. I don’t think you’re right here, if you take a look in Google you’ll see that what you say in your post is actually wrong, don’t believe me see for yourself, check Google ;).

  9. anyone saying that internet is full of crap and nonsense data, they better read your post and see who is talking non sense. nice one mate.

  10. Superb article, I discovered your website through Google. I bookmarked your website for furture infomation, many thanks.

  11. Fantastic post, I really look forward to updates from you.

  12. hi, I recently came across this site from facebook and start reading several of your some other web pages. They are cool. Please keep them coming… Greets,

  13. How-do-you-do? a splendid information dude. Great Share Unfortunately I am having trouble with the rss feed. Don’t know why Fail to subscribe to it. So anyone else experiencing identical rss feed problem? Anybody who can help kindly respond. Thanks in advance

  14. I’m impressed!! Really useful blog post here my friend. I just wished to comment & say keep up the quality work. I’ve saved your site at the moment and We will be back to read much more from now on ! Also awesome colors on the design, this really is easy on the eyes.

  15. Hello, where did you get this information are you able to please help this with some proof or chances are you’ll say some good reference as I and others will actually appreciate. This info is admittedly good and I will say will all the time be useful if we strive it risk free. So in the event you can again it up. That will really help us all. And this would possibly bring some good repute to you.

  16. Cool post! How much stuff did you have to look up in order to write this one? I can tell you put some work in.

  17. You are soooo talented in writing. God is really using you in miraculous methods. You’re doing a great job! This was a wonderful weblog!

  18. I am working with the same design for my personal blog site. I love your header. I am not very good with graphic software which means that my header is pretty basic.

  19. What a wonderful idea. I am not totally sure if that is true, but who knows. Would you be kind enough to write another post, but from the opposing vantage point.

  20. What a wonderful idea. I am not totally sure if that is true, but who knows. Would you be kind enough to write another post, but from the opposing vantage point.

  21. Cheers and Please preserve updating your Website. I will probably be stopping by each and every time you do .

  22. wow, nice post, I was wondering the same thing. and found your site by bing, many userful stuff here, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.

  23. I am certainly not the kind of person who leaves a comment on websites nonetheless this is an unique message. I am just still thinking what the point is however allow me some time and I will certainly find out.

  24. Stumbled into this site by chance but I’m sure glad I clicked on that link. You definitely answered all the questions I’ve been dying to answer for some time now. Will definitely come back for more of this. Thank you so much

  25. Thank you for keeping us updated. I really appreciate it and find all the information very useful.

  26. Thanks for writing this blog and sharing it using the world. I would like to know ways to go for reading your rss web site. Please let me know if probable.

  27. Truly interesting notion for me . Will you posting some a lot more ? coz i desire to abide by ur twitter or facebook

  28. Some thing my partner and I am looking into extremely good to experience your mindset. I was contemplating any Tae Kwon Do practitioners on here if that’s the case consult this content out maximum stunning advise. We have definitely been returning back to it continuously. Really similar to this specific information site

  29. I located this on page 27 in Google which is a shame. I’m hardly any pro still what you’re publishing in this case makes good sense. Far more people really should be aware of it.

  30. Really intriguing concept for me .
    Will you submit some far more ? coz i would like to adhere to ur twitter or facebook

  31. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I¡¯ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  32. Great insights. I loved to read your article. You must be putting a lot of time into your blog!

  33. This is a nice blog i must say, usually i don¡¯t post comments on others¡¯ blogs but would like to say that this post really forced me to do so!

  34. I search this topic for many days. From Yahoo answer and search engine,i know your blog. Such an amazing article! I Seriously enjoy reading it, very good insights, the article is very ell-Stated. A thumbs up! Could we do link exchange? Best Phone Life

  35. Hey – nice blog, just looking around some websites, seems a really nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run.

  36. I love the site! Superb material, as well as great sentence structure. I am just getting fed up of browsing weblogs and web sites which look like they are compiled by 3rd graders. Do you have a Twitter? My own is actually @dmastylo, why don’t we follow one another! 🙂

  37. awesome post thanks for sharing! i will be adding this to my bookmarks keep up the good work!

  38. Fascinating viewpoint. I got for your blog by means of yahoo while i was seeking for net space. I will forward your web site to my colleagues and I’m positive they hopefully feel the similar about your writing on this website.Cheers. free credit report

  39. I’d have to agree with your post. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make one rattle their head. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  40. I agree with your post. Which is not something I usually do! I like reading a post that will make one rattle their head. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  41. Whats up, That is a excellent summation, I located your blog checking google for any similar subject and observed this. I couldnt find too significantly other tips and data on this posting, so it was fantastic to find this one. I am going to probably be returning to contemplate various other articles or blog posts which you have written an additional time.

  42. The quality of your article is very good. Nice reading, informative, and thought provoking.

  43. lafaye, most of the time it is but sometimes it is indeed better to find out more details by doing such a comparison.

  44. Have you considered adding some sort of bookmarking buttons or links to your blog posts?

  45. Wonderful writing and seriously can assist with understanding the article much better.

  46. Pingback: Medical malpractice – Required to file a lawsuit against the negligent party | Personal Injury At Work

  47. Sorry that the picturesque view was spoiled by a local tradition. Yes, the fair’s in town. The dreadful noise is one of the things that Tarbert kids look forward to in a year as there isn’t much else this far west. Keep your eyes open think how difficult it is to manage out here before spreading the criticism. Even the nearest Tesco is an 80 mile round trip.

  48. Pingback: The Impact Of Pharmacogenetics In Pharmaceutical Industry | The Best Spa Health Online

  49. Great blog! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and also the information are well written. I am wondering how I can be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which should do the trick! Have a nice day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *