When you see a doctor about a pressing health issue, you need them to listen to you. Unfortunately, some doctors have a less-than-stellar bedside or office manner. They may barely give you time to speak – and then interrupt you when you do. The next thing you know, they’re out of the room, and you’re left with a lot of unaddressed concerns.
It’s nothing you’ve done. Studies indicate that doctors spend only about 11 seconds listening to their patients before they interrupt – and that’s the average. That means that many doctors out there give their patients even less time to speak.
Why is this so bad?
First of all, when your doctor doesn’t hear you out, you may forget to mention an important symptom. Just getting interrupted can derail your train of thought – and once the doctor’s out the door, it’s too late.
Second, many patients take a doctor’s interruptions as impatience. That can intimidate a patient into not saying more because they don’t want to be labeled “troublesome” or difficult. That can cause a patient to skip details or even minimize their symptoms.
Finally, doctors who don’t listen carefully to their patients may come to conclusions based on what they see most often – instead of carefully considering all the possibilities. For example, if a female patient mentions having heart palpitations and the doctor asks interrupts to ask if she’s stressed, her affirmative answer may immediately lead the doctor to diagnose her with anxiety. If the doctor asked further questions, they may realize that she also has occasional chest pain and the anxiety is associated with that – which could be indicative of heart problems.
Ultimately, if your doctor’s haste led to a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, that could be medical malpractice. Finding out more about your legal options can help you decide what to do next.