Study: a doctor’s respect goes a long way to preventing errors

A recent study found that doctor’s attitudes towards their patients directly influence the likelihood of medical errors.

When you think about the problem of medical errors, you may assume that its likelihood is influenced solely by the knowledge and experience of the physician or surgeon. Although this factor is important, it is not the only thing that determines whether you will have an error-free experience with your doctor. According to a recent study, something as seemingly trivial as your doctor's attitude towards you can influence the quality of your care.

The study, conducted by Consumer Reports, found that doctors' attitudes towards their patients can increase the likelihood of a medical error. The study found that patients that have a doctor that treats them with respect, such as paying attention to their concerns and answering their questions, are less likely to experience medical errors.

Sadly, it seems that such physicians are not as common as you would think. In the study, a survey was cited that indicated that only 25 percent of respondents felt that their doctors treated them with respect. About one-third of survey respondents said their doctors often interrupted them and did not follow through with requests made during the course of their treatment.

It seems that a doctor's respect can mean a lot when it comes to quality care. The study found that patients reporting disrespectful treatment from their medical providers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer an avoidable medical error than those reporting respectful treatment.

Currently, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the nation and a major source of medical malpractice lawsuits. As a result, the study called on medical providers to adopt a respectful approach to their patients.

How to get respectful treatment

According to the study, you are more likely to be treated with respect if you bring a family member or friend along with you to act as an advocate for your treatment. Specifically, the study found that patients that had someone in this role were 15 percent more likely to report being treated respectfully by their healthcare providers.

To reduce the risk of medical errors, it is advisable to know when such errors are more likely to occur. Experts say that medical errors are often made during shift changes or during moves within the hospital. During these times, having an advocate is especially helpful.

Additionally, it is important to write down the treatment information that the nurse or doctor is giving you to ensure that you are able to later mentally process it, when it is not so overwhelming. Doing so will ensure that you (or your advocate) can quickly spot any treatment irregularities (e.g. wrong medication) that may later occur. Be sure to write down any questions you have, so you can later ensure the doctor answers them.

Speak to an attorney

Medical errors can often lead to life-long consequences or even death, if they are not caught early enough. If you or a loved one have experienced a medical error, it is important to speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The experienced attorneys at McKeen & Associates, P.C. can listen to your situation and work to recover compensation for the financial and emotional losses stemming from the error.