While bedside manner may come naturally to some doctors and nurses, it seems as if many patients have had experience with medical professionals who act like they do not care. Now, new research is making a case for hospitals to start teaching the skill of compassion.
In what looks like a normal checkup, medical students go through a simulated doctor-patient experience with an actor in an attempt to teach bedside manner. Heather Walker works at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and runs the simulation program.
According to Walker, the program aims to teach better bedside manner, “Are they compassionate? Are they, you know, looking at patient satisfaction?"
Amanuel Yohannes, a medical student at Creighton University, says communication is key, “You have to have the patient build trust in you and have them be comfortable enough to sometimes share really personal things that you as a physician need to know in order to help them."
Students are graded on their interaction by both faculty and the “patient” in the simulation.
"You're not going to come back to somebody if they're rude, or if they're unfeeling, or uncaring or treating you, hum not like a human being,” said Michele Richmond, an actress in the program.
Research shows patients who feel their doctor has a good bedside manner are more compliant with their treatment regimens, and are less likely to experience complications along the road.
Another recent study conducted at Michigan State University found that when trust and empathy are associated with positive physician-patient encounters, the brain actually changes its response to stress and increases pain tolerance.
"It's not just trying to figure out what's going on with the patient, but they also have to feel, you know, they have to have empathy for the patient," said Walker.
Good bedside manner could also help doctors avoid malpractice lawsuits. Studies show patients are less likely to sue when they feel cared about, even if a physician makes a medical mistake.
COMPASSION IN HEALTHCARE:
IMPROVING BEDSIDE MANNER
HIPPOCRATIC THOUGHT ON BEDSIDE MANNER: Physicians' manners, dress, bearing, deportment, and conduct were vital and necessary elements of patient care, a tradition that extended from the earliest shamans to the emergence of scientific medicine. The Hippocratic corpus has many references to appropriate conduct and medical etiquette, with several devoted just to physician behavior. The importance of bedside manners was taught by medical scholars for 1500 years, from Hippocrates and Galen to Avicenna and the early Christian monks who began hospital care in the Middle Ages. (SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles)
THE DOCTOR'S ROLE: The practice of medicine changes with time as we develop better techniques for diagnosis and improved therapies for treatment. The art of medicine remains constant over the millennia because human nature is unchanging. Patients bring fear, anxiety, and self-pity into the exam room. It has always been the doctor's responsibility to calm their fears and provide hope. The accomplished doctor has a bedside manner that is humane and compassionate, empathetic and supportive. (SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles)
WHY DOCTORS GET SUED: When patients are asked to describe why they like their doctor, it is common to hear the response, "He or she has a good bedside manner." Research shows that risk of doctors being sued by their patients for medical malpractice has little to do with how many mistakes they make. Despite protests from doctors that malpractice lawsuits are born of greedy patients and their even greedier lawyers, analyses of malpractice suits actually show that highly skilled doctors can get sued a lot, while other doctors who make lots of mistakes never do. (SOURCE: http://www.ccyp.medicine.net; http://jama.jamanetwork.com/journal)
WHAT PATIENTS WANT FROM THEIR DOCTOR: Attitude, listening skills, persuasion abilities and a pleasing demeanor have all become key differentiators in the quality of service of hospitals everywhere in the world. Being a good healthcare professional is not just about being brilliant, patients need and expect more than just their doctor's expertise in their area of work. Patients want their doctors to show compassion and communicate. Patients want their doctors to:
* Be a good listener, patients may need to be encouraged to express their concerns and anxieties.
* Be non-judgmental; avoid stereotyping patients on appearance or cultural or social background.
* Provide information in a language that is easily understood by the patient and avoid medical jargon that may be confusing. Listen to what you are saying.
* Approach all patients in a caring and considerate manner.
* Remember, patients have busy lives, be mindful of waiting times.
(SOURCE: http://www.comphealth.com; http://www.ccyp.medicine.net)
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Senior Public Relations Specialist
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center