13 June 2007

How To Greet Patients

"Care more for the individual patient than
for the special features of the disease...
put yourself in his place....the kindly word, the cheerful greeting,
the sympathetic look --- these, the patient understands
~ Sir William Osler

Sir Osler certainly understood it best when it came to details on how to establish rapport with patients. Unfortunately, not all physicians are capable of easy rapport with their patients. Human interaction requires skill sometimes, and for overworked and stressed physicians, that can be quite a challenge.

A new study published in the recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine says that most patients prefer to have their hands shaken by their doctors on their first meeting. They also preferred to be addressed by their names.

Details of the study:

  • 78.1 percent of patients wanted their hands shaken by their doctors

  • 50.4 percent of patients wanted physicians to address them by their first names

  • 56.4 percent of patients wanted their physicians to introduce themselves using their first and last names

Treating diseases is already difficult as it is, but I think physicians win part of the battle when they become friends with their patients.

From my experience, a warm smile and occasional pat on the backs are also known to work wonders.

3 reactions:

bayi said...

Knowing how the patients want to be greeted is definitely very important. It sets the premise for the rest of the dealings and subsequent relationship with the patient. If the patient has a good first impression of the doctor, he will listen to the doctor's advice more diligently and follow the doctor's prescription better. It's an added element of trust in this relationship that works wonders, trust that your doctor understands you better.

When I deal with people, I establish eye contact. It's not a conscious effort but one that's natural, so as to bring in an element of recognition. It also allows the other party to know that I am dealing honestly and with sincerety. This always works.

Prudence said...

It's hard, though, when patients already come to the hospital with mistrust in their minds. It makes me wonder why they keep on coming to the same hospital when they have misgivings about its services or doctors.

sarah said...

As a patient I will stick my hand out and shake my doctor's hand. As a future doctor, I will stick out my hand and shake my patient's hand. I agree with bayi that eye contact is also important. If a handshake and eye contact helps to put a patient at ease where is the harm?