What Doctors Say And What Patients Hear May Be Entirely Different Things

A study of 89 patients at one U.S. hospital has found that "doctors and patients are often not on the same page when discussing diagnoses and treatment," Reuters reports. "In interviews with the patients on the day of their discharge, researchers found that only 18 percent even knew the name of the main physician in charge of their hospital care. Meanwhile, just 57 percent left the hospital knowing what their diagnosis was. In contrast, two-thirds of the 43 physicians interviewed thought their patients knew their name, and 77 percent believed their patients were aware of their diagnosis." The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. And the gaps in communication go even further, the study found. "Of patients in this study who were prescribed a new medication during their hospital stay, one-quarter said their doctor never told them about it. And very few — 10 percent — said their doctor discussed the drug's potential side effects with them." Some possible remedies: giving written information to patients in addition to spoken instructions during the hospital stay and not only at discharge, one of the authors said (8/10).

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