Most people can to relate to how difficult it can be to describe the symptoms of an injury or illness to another person. Explaining how one feels is often frustrating and even embarrassing because things like pain are very subjective. It’s for that reason that New York doctors and medical professionals are trained on how to effectively listen to their patients and make sound judgments regarding medical symptoms and diagnoses. Given current patient-care conditions, however, physician inattentiveness may result in serious medical errors.
When Medicare changed it formula for determining physician compensation in the early 90s, the insurance carrier essentially established the 15-minute doctor visit standard that was soon adopted by other insurance companies across the country. And while it is estimated that the average doctor visit is around four minutes longer than it was some 20 years ago, physician-patient encounters are still generally quick and confused.
The quality of doctor visits is a major issue since there is evidence to suggest that physicians may not listen to patients as well as they could. One study found that almost 75 percent of patients are interrupted before they have the opportunity to finish their sentence during a doctor visit, and physicians are now believed to redirect patients’ conversations well within the first minute of meeting. The encounter is further complicated in instances where patients have multiple medical issues to discuss.
Serious doctor errors may also occur because many physicians are encouraged to speed visits along so that they can see as many patients as possible. Such conditions contribute to a care environment where the number of encounters trumps the quality of experiences for patients and doctors alike.
Source: PBS, “15-minute doctor visits take a toll on patient-physician relationships,” Roni Caryn Rabin, April 21, 2014