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The study draws a connection between bedside manner and the likelihood of being sued for malpractice and those who rush their patients through a visit. Researchers audiotaped at least 10 routine patient visits, each with 59 primary care physicians and 65 general and orthopedic surgeons in Colorado and Oregon.
Primary care physicians in the no claims group spent an average of 18.3 minutes with patients during a routine office visit; those in the claims group spent an average of 15 minutes.
Researchers also found that primary care physicians in the no claims group were more likely to use explanations such as, "First I’m going to examine you, and then we will talk the problem over." These physicians also asked patients for their opinions, elicited questions, and were more likely to use humor and laugh during an office visit.
The researchers concluded that "physicians can incorporate these behaviors into routine practice to improve their communication skills and decrease their malpractice risks."
The study was funded by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and led by Wendy Levinson, MD, formerly of Oregon Health Sciences University and Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center in Portland, OR. She now is the chief of the section of internal medicine at the University of Chicago.