Friday, June 30, 2006

The importance of writing it down !

Studies have shown that patients forget upto 50% of what a doctor tells them ( either because of the stress of having to go to a doctor; or because doctors speak too fast; or use too much medicalese).
If doctor-patient verbal communication has such a poor track record, this is a poor use of the doctor's time - and a dis-service to the patient as well ! We all know that human memory is fallible, so why can't we develop a better way of telling the patient what he needs to know ?
Lewis Carroll gently reminded us: “The horror of that moment,” the King went on, “I shall never, never forget!” “You will, though,” the Queen said, “if you don’t make a memorandum of it.”
In my practise, I summarise the consultation at the end in writing , and give a copy to the patient for his records. If this is too time consuming, then I feel all doctors should offer their patients a pen and paper and invite them to make notes during the consultation. This is such a simple and easy thing to do - why don't we do it routinely ? It will also allow the doctor to confirm that the meesage he wanted to communicate has not been garbled !

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