Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why are doctors so rude ?

One of the commonest complaints patients have about their doctors is that they are impolite or rude. I feel this is especially true for doctors who have a hospital-based practise. Hospitals tend to breed rude behaviour. Even polite doctors tend to become arrogant once they have spent a few years in a hospital.

For one thing, doctors in hospitals are very busy and they often just don't have time for the common pleasantries which we take for granted in our daily life. Many of them are brusque and down-to-earth because they need to get on with their serious job of taking care of their patients, and they simply cannot afford to chit-chat with patients or their relatives. This is why they put on a shield which protects them from having to spend too much time with one patient. They cultivate an aura of superiority and aloofness to allow themselves to accomplish their tasks effectively.

They are usually accompanied by a retinue of assistants and juniors - and they often spend more time talking to them than to patients. Since nurses and juniors are deferential and respectful, patients are expected to toe the line and follow suit !

Hospitals can be hot-beds of political rivalry amongst doctors, most of whom have large egos and play a superb game of one-upmanship. They often have to show how much busier they are than the other doctors, so appearing to be overworked and rushing around from bed to bed ( because they have such a heavy workload) is considered to be an asset. This makes them even more unapproachable.

Today, because doctors try to take as many hospital attachments as possible ( to augment their income), they are so busy rushing around from hospital to hospital, they they have even lesser time to spend with an individual patient.

Finally, many hospital-based doctors do not have a personal relationship with their patients. Patients often come to them because of the reputation of the hospital in which they work , so they rarely bother to establish a rapport with them - every patient they treat is like every other patient.

Unfortunately, this sort of behaviour does exact a toll - and many patients and families resent the doctor's high-handedness. This damages a doctor-patient relationship - and leads to lawsuits when things go wrong.

It's been proven that doctors who take the time to sit and talk to patients ( even if it's for just a few minutes) are seen to be much more caring and thoughtful than those who don't - and these doctors do much better in clinical practise too !
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