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Health & Balance

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Patients School Doctors in Manners

Most Patients Want Doctors to Shake Their Hands and Introduce Themselves

Patients' Views continued...

Less than half of the patients answered the question about other things their doctor should do when they first meet. Their top requests were for doctors to do the following:

  • Smile
  • Be friendly, personable, polite, respectful, calm, and attentive
  • Make the patient feel like a priority
  • Make eye contact with them

In most of the videos -- 82% -- doctors and patients shook hands. But in half of the videotaped doctor-patient meetings, half of the doctors never mentioned the patient's name at all.

Meet and Greet

Based on the survey, the researchers came up with a simple script for doctors to use in greeting new patients.

"If Dr. Robert Franklin is meeting Ms. Jane Smith, we would suggest that he say: "Jane Smith? Hi, I'm Bob Franklin."

Makoul and colleagues also suggest that doctors ask their new patients how they want to be addressed and put those preferences in the patient's medical records for future reference.

"On return visits, we suggest that previous meetings be acknowledged during the greeting (e.g., "Hello, Ms. Smith; good to see you again). Greetings in return visits can convey a great deal about how much a physician remembers or cares about a patient," write the researchers.

  • If you had a wish list of things you want from your doctor, what would be on it? More time during visits? More answers to questions? Tell us what you need that you aren't getting from your health care team.
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