If it was classified as a disease, it would be the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States…behind only heart disease, cancer, and lung conditions.
Researchers have found that miscommunication between doctors and patients kills up to 130,000 Americans a year.1
Half of patients don’t understand what doctors tell them. And even when they do, up to 80% of the information is forgotten before it can be implemented.2,3
This can have lethal consequences in many different ways. It can mean patients take medications incorrectly… Or they don’t follow dietary or lifestyle instructions… Or they skip follow up care… Or they make poor decisions about their treatment.4
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In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at nine hospitals studied 10,704 patients. They found doctor-patient communication problems stem from five basic issues:
- Difficult medical terminology
- Doctors who speak too quickly
- Patients who don’t understand basic medical concepts
- Doctors who overload patients with too much information at once
- Doctors who present information that is poorly organized and confusing
Researchers instituted a program in the hospitals to improve the way doctors and other health practitioners communicate to patients. They had doctors put more information in writing. And they trained them to use simple, clear language. As a result, patient “adverse events” decreased by 30%.5
5 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Doctor
Here are five simple steps to make sure you understand your doctor:6
- Cut through the jargon. If you can’t understand your doctor, don’t be embarrassed. Up to half of patients don’t. Make your practitioner simplify the words so that you understand. If that doesn’t work, ask a nurse or assistant to help you understand.
- Get it in writing. Make your doctor write down important instructions. One study found that only 14% of spoken medical instructions are recalled correctly by patients.
- Make sure it’s legible. Doctors are notorious for having bad handwriting. If you can’t read your doctor’s handwriting, ask an assistant or nurse to rewrite it legibly. Or demand that instructions be typed and printed.
- Act on information promptly. Make medical decisions soon after you get the information you need. The longer you wait, the greater the chance you’ll forget important details about your diagnosis.
- Ask for images. One study found that when patients are provided with a visual image of their condition, they recall their doctor’s information perfectly 80% of the time. Ask to see X-rays or any other diagnostic images that pertain to your condition. You could even ask your doctor to draw a picture that illustrates your problem.
If you’re worried about getting shoddy medical care, there’s something else you should know… The drugs your doctor sends you home with could put your health in even greater danger.
Our special report, The Top 10 Dangerous Pharmaceutical Drugs—And Their Natural Alternatives, contains important information for you and your family. There’s a good chance someone you love is endangering his or her life. And they may have no clue.