Having an empathetic doctor can actually decrease your pain awareness, according to a new study published in Patient Education and Counseling, which makes finding the right doctor all the more important.
"The degree to which patients develop a positive relationship with their doctors determines how their brains react to stress and experience pain," says Issidoros Sarinopoulos, Ph.D., a professor of radiology at Michigan State University. This relationship can influence how your body recovers and affect your overall health.
There are six primary traits to look for in your current or potential new doctor:
- He/she is empathetic - Patients are more satisfied by doctors who go beyond asking only very clinical information (such as medical history and current medications) and also ask open-ended questions about their home life and work as well as any concerns they may have about an upcoming procedure.
- He/she takes time - Sometimes the 17 minutes the average doctor spends to listen to, diagnose, and prescribe the best treatment doesn't cut it. You should leave your appointment with answers to all of your questions and not feel pushed through your visit.
- He/she is alert and well-rested - It's within your rights as a patient to ask if your doctor is rested. A sleepless night clouds next-day judgment, so be aware if your doctor is constantly yawning or has circles under his/her eyes.
- He/she is up-to-date on the latest research - When it comes to your general practitioner, who won't be performing newfangled tests or procedures, mid-career doctors have a good balance of current knowledge and work experience. Physicians who work at teaching hospitals are regularly vetted by their peers and have to stay up-to-date to continually teach interns.
- He/she doesn't judge you or dismiss your concerns - Not being able to talk to your doctor about your sex life, drinking habits, and anything else that can affect your health without feeling judged can affect your treatment. If you feel your lifestyle choices are criticized or concerns dismissed, look for someone else.
- He/she keeps it professional - A doctor should be friendly, but not flirtatious. Keep in mind that more doctors than ever are now Googling their patients. If you hear your doctor discussing personal details you didn't divulge, ask how he/she got that information.
Many physicians are overworked and forced to add patients, procedures and unneeded studies in an effort to earn the same, or even lesser, wages as before. This crisis is due to the ever shrinking reimbursement they receive from Medicare, Medicaid and even private insurance companies. The increase in volume often leads to medical mistakes and medical malpractice as well.
If you have been injured due to medical malpractice please call to investigate your matter fully. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.