October 1998 Bulletin

Patients need personalized attention

A good deal of how a patient feels about the care he or she received depends on his or her interaction with the physician.

Many patients, not knowing how else to judge a physician, rely heavily on the impressions that form when they meet with the physician. According to Kevin W. Sullivan, of Sullivan/Luallin in San Diego, 55 percent of impressions are formed by a person's nonverbal body language, 38 percent by tone of voice, and only 7 percent by the words used.

"If you put me in an examining room of a trained professional, 93 percent of how I feel about that surgeon has nothing to do with what he or she learned in medical school," Sullivan says. "Many of my clients say that's not fair. We're not dealing with what's fair, but with what's real."

Even though a doctor may be under pressure to keep patients moving through the office, it's important for him or her not to appear rushed. It's important to sit when talking with the patient, not stand with a hand on the door.

At Orthopaedic and Rhematology Associates, Davenport, Iowa, nurses will find out the questions the patient has and record them. When a physician looks at the chart, the first thing he or she sees is the list of questions. With the questions gathered ahead of time, patients aren't flustered when the doctor meets with them.

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