a female doctor explains a diagnosis to an older man

Bedside Manner Matters

I’ve written prior on the importance of a good doctor and patient partnership. Unfortunately, there can be missing pieces for both parties for whatever reason.

Let’s talk about what is the term bedside manner and why it’s an important factor to include in figuring out if you’re receiving the best care or not.

What is bedside manner?

Bedside manner: The way in which a doctor treats people who are sick, especially showing kind, friendly, and understanding behavior. The history of the term is interesting, and clearly, the concept has changed over time, and not for the best for some patients and their experiences.1

One physician, Sir William Osler, provided the blueprint for how doctors should behave while providing the patient with the best experience. His book “The Principle and Practices of Medicine" is considered the go-to for many rising doctors. The Hippocratic Corpus is one that is the rule of the medical land, and as time has gone by, we can say that there has been a modern approach updated to the blueprint, whether good or not so good.2

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After doing a little research, it is quite interesting the reason why some of the doctor's and patients’ methods are off, and based on Sir Osler, it can be assumed that a doctor was held in higher regard, leaving room for some doctors to be offensive and providing what we would call bad bedside manner. When we leave room for the ego to enter the room in care, it never ends peaceably or ethically, which is not the intention.

Rules for good bedside manner

Not everyone has had the pleasure of a bad doctor or one that lacks the couth necessary when working with a patient. Do you ever wonder what is missing from a visit with your doctor? In your mind, you may know that something is not syncing, but because we hold our doctors to a higher pedestal in caring for us, for some, we leave room for accepting bad behavior.

If you have concerns about the quality of your care, here are some areas to keep in mind and signs to watch out for:

  • Eye Contact
  • Is your doctor looking at you or strictly at the paperwork or wall? Positive communication includes personable dialogue, and that would include eye contact.

  • Detail
  • A doctor who uses their pen for effective note-taking is key. Although we may not know everything the doctors are jotting down, the idea of them asking the right questions and being attentive when you spill important details is important.

  • Body language
  • If your doctor’s demeanor is showing they don’t wish to be there with you or rushing your complaint of not feeling well, then that is not a good thing.

  • Listening ears and fewer interruptions
  • A good bedside manner is a team that is actually listening and not giving their consensus until you’re done providing them with details of why you’re not feeling the best.

When these areas are weakened, it only allows room for a disconnect with the patient, and part of treatment is to ensure all details are expressed and clear for a positive experience throughout. If any of these areas are missed, then perhaps delve into an open conversation with your doctor on how you, the patient, feel about your treatment or seek another doctor who has better reviews on positive patient-doctor partnerships and the manner in which they treat their patients.

 The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile... when you feel like it

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