It is estimated that around 42% of all physicians will encounter a medical malpractice lawsuit in their time of practice. When you look at a physician’s workload, it’s not hard to see why. The tremendous amount of work and overcrowded hospitals almost require doctors to cut corners. Meanwhile, they also have to keep up with the demanding workload placed upon them. To reduce the chances of a medical malpractice lawsuit, physicians (and holistic practitioners) have to keep people in mind. It is still critical to engage with patients on a person-to-person basis. Learn how to make your patients comfortable with these following tips.
Pay Attention to Your Patients
First, doctors should pay attention to the patient, not the paperwork. With the genesis of the electronic health record (EHR) in recent years and its rapid dissemination throughout the medical world, doctors have faced even more time pressures than normal to fill out excessively detailed forms with a high time constraint. Very often, doctors will work on EHRs during appointments with patients.
Doctors must use the limited time that patients can see you focus on them and their needs. Focus on your patient’s face. Make eye contact to make the patient feel like more than a cog in a machine. If necessary, hire a medical scribe to fill out EHRs and other important documents.
Listen to Your Patients
When a patient mentions problems or concerns, ask them follow-up questions to show you care. Even simple things as smiling can make a difference. Your patients have come to see you for a reason — make sure that you meet them where they are and explore all avenues of explanations for problems rather than saying things like “it’s all in your head.”
Use the BATHE Technique
The BATHE technique is another way for doctors to show they care about their patients by implementing counseling practices into general doctor’s visits. The BATHE technique stands for:
- Background — Doctors should ask for context for the reason for the visit in a few sentences. Also, inquire about general things that are happening in the patient’s life.
- Affect — This aspect of the BATHE technique specifically focuses on emotions. How has this issue affected the patient’s life? How does this problem make the patient feel?
- Trouble — Asking the patient what troubles him or her the most about this situation can provide insight for both of you as well as focus on what needs to be quickly addressed and solved.
- Handle — How is the patient dealing with this situation? What solutions have already been tried or implemented? Most importantly, how can you help? You should also provide other possible positive methods of handling the situation.
- Empathy — Doctors must follow up on the conversation with an expression of empathy by showing support, encouraging the patient, reinforcing ideas for solutions, and illustrating that you understand the patient’s issues.
Create a Comforting Space
The spaces surrounding doctors’ visits in either hospitals or private practices can be uncomfortable, sterile, unwelcoming, and even intimidating. Doctors and staff should provide comfortable chairs, multiple options for entertainment such as up-to-date magazines and televisions, a comfortable room temperature, and more.
Also, provide options to fill out necessary forms before coming to the office. Make sure to keep the wait time in check as much as possible, illustrating that you value your patients’ time as much as they should value yours.
Quality care is more than just treatment for illnesses, diseases, conditions, or other relevant medical problems. This means having conversations and treating your clients as people first, then as a patient second. Walk through their medical issues with them, encouraging questions and providing follow-up resources — a more informed patient is a healthier patient. Furthermore, involving the patient in the decisions about pathways for their care is a great way to build this relationship and empower the patient in their medical interactions.
Learning How To Make Your Patients More Comfortable
Adding a level of intimacy and trust in your interactions with patients means that you can better serve their needs and advocate for them if necessary. Plus, focusing on cultivating doctor-patient relationships as part of health care leads to greater patient satisfaction, which has been shown to lower malpractice lawsuit rates for doctors, so it is truly a win-win.