Most doctors feel like they do a good job communicating with patients. But when researchers analyzed audiotaped conversations between doctors and patients who knew they were being taped to study communication effectiveness, they found that adequate information for informed consent was given only 9% of the time! This was a large study (over 3,500 medical decisions). The results were even worse for complex decisions (only 0.5% of patients were given adequate communication for an informed decision).
We doctors must do better — and we will — but don’t just wait for that to happen. Be responsible for getting the communication you need. The challenging study appeared in the December 22/29, 1999 issue of JAMA. The same issue contained a wonderful guide for patients on how to communicate with doctors.
When we all ‘get’ that the patient is a central part of the healthcare team, we do a much better job of connecting.