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Caring Concern: What Are Doctors Thinking When They Rush In & Out?
…& How it Affects Your Care

By Patti Wood MA CSP

For 6 months I sat on the edge of my then boyfriends Shane’s hospital bed while he recovered from a devastating gun shot wound acquired in a hunting accident. I watched the doctors rush in, check the paper work, ask one of two questions of my boyfriend, and all without smiling, making eye contact or touching him and then rush out!  His health care was poor. He was checked out of the hospital far too early after heart surgery, and he ended up back in the hospital with an extra long recovery.

For a year I sat on the edge of my best friend, Roy’s bed while he hung on to life fighting AIDS.  I watched the overworked doctor rush in, look at the paper work, ask a question or two without making eye contact or touching him and then rush out.  Roy’s health care was horrific and he died with in a year.

Over the years I have seen my share of doctors. And even when I had waited months to see a particular specialist I experienced the over worked doctor rushing in looking at the paper work then asking me a couple of questions, with out smiling or making eye contact then giving me a faulty diagnosis and recommending medications with horrific side effects or invasive medical procedures and rushing out. Dr. Jerome Groopman, a staff writer with The New Yorker and Author of the newly published book, "How Doctors Think," says doctors diagnose a patient within the first 18 seconds of speaking with them.  I am lucky to have no serious health problems. Unlike my friends I have nothing deadly or contagious, but even I have paid a price for Physicians who didn’t listen to verbal and nonverbal communication.

I have a great respect for Physicians. I am thankful that my current Physician and GYN are exceptional and both take more than five minutes to talk to me while making eye contact and smiling. Although,  my past experience is that most doctors are overworked and under enormous pressure. They have very little time and patience and do not know how to give quality attention and care to their patients; which leads to not just a poor diagnosis but poor health care and recovery.

As a consultant and speaker for the last 26 years I have worked with Physicians and other Health Care Professionals to improve their interpersonal communication. I am on a mission to educate Health Care Professionals in "Caring Communication" with their patients. I have speech and training programs called "Caring Concern Dealing with Patients Patiently" which educates anyone who interacts with patients on body language and other communication skills. It is a program that is near and dear to my heart. If you know of any group or Health Care Professionals that needs this program please put me in touch with them. Here is the link to the program description on my website:  http://pattiwood.com/program.asp?PageID=5854. If you can not link here, go to www.Pattiwood.net click on Programs located on the side bar, then scroll down and click on Caring Concern. I have also a customized program on "Listening to Patients Patiently."

There is a new book called How Doctors Think, by Dr. Jerome Groopman, a practicing physician and a professor at Harvard Medical School. In his book, He shares stories similar to mine. He explains a Doctor’s thinking process and the prejudices that can push them to faulty diagnoses. He also explains the pressure HMOs can add to this problem. This book is a must for anyone caring for a sick loved one or dealing with any medical issue of their own.

HOW DOCTORS THINK

By Jerome Groopman, M.D.
Houghton Mifflin; 307pp; $26
Editor's Review
Readers' Reviews

The Bottom Line numerous tales of misdiagnosis--and valuable lessons for everyone.

The Good:  A rare window into the doctor's mind.
The Bad:  Waits to the very end to give tips for patients.