Don’t be mean to your doctor … or else

Don’t be mean to your doctor … or else

Treat your doctors well if you hope to get good treatment in return, new studies have found.

If you’re a jerk, you’re probably going to have a rough time at the hospital — that’s the conclusion of a new studies by Dutch researchers.

Two studies found that grumpy and disruptive patients tend to get worse care from physicians, according to a BMJ statement.

And that’s not necessarily intentional on the part of doctors — it may simply be because disruptive patients are distracting and make it more difficult for doctors to do their jobs.

Unpleasant patients make up about 15 percen tof people who visit doctors. They are typically aggressive, demanding, or disrespectful to those providing them care. This can result in an emotional reaction from doctors that affects the quality of care, the researchers found.

To arrive at their conclusions, researchers created fictional vignettes involving neutral and disruptive patients, and then monitored how doctors responded. They found that in one study, doctors made 42 percent more mistakes for disruptive patients.

“Patients regarded as ‘difficult’ increase doctors’ risk of getting a diagnosis wrong, irrespective of the time spent or the complexity of the case,” the statement reads. “This is because the mental effort needed to deal with the problematic behaviour distracts from the task at hand–processing the clinical information correctly–concludes a companion study in the journal.

“It is assumed that a doctor’s response to patients regarded as ‘difficult’ could affect the accuracy of the diagnosis s/he makes, but to date there’s been no empirical evidence to back that up,” the statement continues. “The researchers therefore set about testing this by providing 63 doctors in the last year of their specialty training in family medicine with one of two versions of six clinical case scenarios. One version portrayed a ‘difficult’ patient with one of six conditions and the other described the same patient, but without the disruptive behaviour (neutral).”



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