For many modern patients in America, paying a visit to the doctor is an intensely frustrating experience. You may show up early for the appointment so that you know you won’t arrive late and lose your spot. You will explain the purpose of your appointment to the person who checks you in at the front desk.
You will then wait, likely well past your scheduled appointment time, for someone to bring you back into an exam room. The nurse or assistant who brings you back will weigh you, ask you about your current medications and go over the exact same things you talked about when you first checked in for the appointment. They will put you in an exam room, will where you will wait again until the doctor finally arrives.
After all that waiting, you expect the doctor to pay attention to you and to treat your complaints with earnest concern. All too often, people feel dismissed and as though their doctor did not listen to them at all during an appointment. Research into current practices in doctor’s offices shows that your suspicions may actually be right.
Doctors simply don’t have the time to listen
Doctors are no longer self-employed professionals pursuing the cases that fascinate them or the well-being of a small patient base. Instead, they are typically employees working for a corporate practice. They have a roster of hundreds of patients and will see dozens of people on any given day.
They are not able to remember much about you from appointment to appointment, if they remember you at all. They will have to remind themselves of your background and medical history by scanning your chart, which they will do in the room with you. When you start to talk, they will likely only listen for 11 seconds before they start reaching a conclusion or interrupting you to ask a question.
Doctors who don’t listen can’t diagnose you properly
When a doctor jumps to a conclusion regarding the source of a patient’s symptoms, they may do that patient a grave disservice. Yes, a cough could be the result of a virus or seasonal allergies, but it could also be an early warning sign of lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Doctors should either confirm a diagnosis with a minor condition or rule out more serious causes of your symptoms. When a doctor rushes to conclusions or doesn’t listen to your full list of symptoms, they might fail to diagnose you or reach the wrong conclusion, both of which could have tragic consequences. Suffering from a diagnostic error is a valid reason to pursue a medical malpractice claim against your primary care physician or the company that employs them.