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Patients who feel like doctors don’t listen to them may be right

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Communication is vital to any functional relationship. That is as true for a professional relationship as it is for interpersonal relationships. For example, patients generally need to be able to trust their physicians enough to be honest about potentially embarrassing symptoms and the details of their lifestyle. They need to effectively convey concerns to their doctor during appointments. Unfortunately, many patients struggle to receive an accurate diagnosis. A doctor might never diagnose them at all or may diagnose them with the wrong condition. The patient may later blame a physician for refusing to listen to them.

Doctors typically need to listen to patients to understand the symptoms they have experienced and figure out the underlying cause of their medical challenges. When a doctor fails to listen to a patient, they could also fail in their diagnostic responsibilities. Patients who believe that their doctors don’t pay attention to them might actually be correct.

Many doctors don’t have time to listen

Whether someone seeks out an evaluation at a crowded urgent care facility or has an appointment with their primary care physician, they only spend a very small amount of time with the doctor providing their care. As a general rule, physicians need to see dozens of people in any given shift. That means they must keep the time with each individual patient relatively brief.

The pressure on physicians to see as many patients as possible means that doctors often do not devote adequate time and attention to each patient. Researchers have found that the average position listens only 11 seconds before reaching a conclusion or interrupting the patient.

The doctor’s inability to listen might mean that the patient fails to convey crucial information that could affect the accuracy of the diagnosis. A doctor’s diagnostic failure might lead to a patient undergoing unnecessary and improper treatment or not receiving crucial treatment that could make a major difference in their medical state. Diagnostic errors are among the most common forms of medical malpractice.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit when a doctor fails to listen, and causes harm as a result, can compensate the patient for the damages that the doctor’s conduct has caused. Patients who stand up for themselves can help push for better medical practices and hold healthcare providers accountable for negligent practices, like failing to give adequate attention to each patient seeking treatment.