Bedside manner’ is most common trigger of complaints about GPs

Bedside manners is among the common triggers of complaints about general practitioners. A YouGov survey of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by medico-legal organization Medical Protection, found that three of the top five most popular reasons for making a complaint were related to how their GP interacted with them.

Among those who had made an official complaint, a third (32%) said their reasoning was down to ‘poor behavior such as manners or attitude’ from the GP, making it the most common cause.

When we are faced with the stress and uncertainty of a health crisis, we often turn to our physicians as a sense of calm and safety, but for some of us that is not what we are met with. 

The disturbing frequency of complaints related to the poor behavior of healthcare professionals underscores a critical area of concern within patient care: the communication skills and interpersonal interactions of healthcare providers. Such complaints often reflect not just isolated incidents, but a systemic issue where the pressures and stresses of the healthcare environment manifest in the deterioration of professional demeanor. This troubling trend highlights the need for more comprehensive training in communication and empathy as part of medical education. Reinforcing these skills could significantly enhance the patient experience, fostering a more supportive and respectful environment that upholds the dignity and well-being of patients during vulnerable times.

Addressing these concerns goes beyond training and enters the realm of creating supportive structures that allow healthcare professionals to manage their stress and mental health effectively. Implementing regular psychological support and stress management programs can equip doctors with the tools they need to maintain their composure and empathy, even under pressure. Such initiatives would not only improve interactions with patients but also enhance the overall workplace environment, reducing burnout and promoting better mental health among medical staff. This holistic approach to healthcare worker well-being could transform patient care standards, ensuring that every interaction between doctor and patient is conducted with the utmost respect and consideration.

Doctors have a limited amount of time and energy, and it should be spent on keeping patients alive.

“The fact of the matter is that our physicians are facing 27-hour days. Between paperwork, credentialing, and continuing education, they are left with little time to build meaningful connections with patients. Although they understand that bedside manners are important to the wellbeing of their patients, they cannot pour from an empty cup. The primary focus should remain on the core of the job to avoid burnout. It’s quite unfortunate but necessary in order to keep up with the excessive workload expected of doctors ” shares Sarah Worthy, CEO of DoorSpace.

Your doctor isn’t mad at you – they’re mad at paperwork and other mundane tasks that prevent them from being more attentive with patients.

“On top of the two hours of patient documentation a physician has for every one hour they spend treating patients – physicians also have almost nine hours per week of non-patient related paperwork. A lot of what constitutes a physician’s paperwork is writing down the same information repeatedly. The bulk of that time spent on non-patient related paperwork can easily be automated by moving to a centralized data-management system. The time that this could save our physicians could greatly impact their interactions with patients and could potentially re-ignite their love for practicing medicine.”

While interpersonal skills are crucial in patient care, the systemic pressures faced by doctors often hinder their ability to engage effectively with patients. The need for a balance between maintaining professional demeanor and managing overwhelming administrative duties is evident. Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach that includes not only enhancing communication skills but also revising operational practices to alleviate the bureaucratic burdens that detract from patient interaction.

While the need for empathy and proper bedside manners in healthcare cannot be overstated, the environment in which practitioners operate must also be reformed to support these ideals. By integrating technological solutions to streamline paperwork, providing psychological support, and fostering an environment that allows for meaningful patient interactions, healthcare systems can better support their staff in fulfilling their roles both as caregivers and as professionals. Such reforms would not only improve patient satisfaction but also enhance the job satisfaction and efficacy of doctors, ultimately leading to a more resilient and compassionate healthcare system.