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Patients are often interrupted by their doctors, study finds

When Arizona patients get a chance to visit with their doctors, they may feel rushed. According to a new study, many doctors do not give their patients enough time to explain their problems.

The study assessed the first few minutes of doctor consultations that occurred among 112 patients and their doctors between 2008 and 2015. The researchers looked at whether doctors asked their patients questions that would allow the patient to discuss their reason for the visit. They also observed whether or not the doctor interrupted the patients while answering questions.

It was found that 36 percent of the patients were able to set up their agendas with their doctor. However, even these patients were interrupted just 11 seconds on average after they started discussing their reasons for the visit. The patients who were not interrupted spoke for another six seconds on average before finishing speaking. While it was not known why patients were regularly interrupted by their doctors, it's believed that time constraints, burnout and not being trained on how to communicate with patients could potentially be factors.

When doctors do not listen to their patients, there is potential for them to miss signs or symptoms that could indicate a disease. Some conditions, such as certain cancers, can be deadly if there is a delayed diagnosis. If doctor errors resulting from poor patient-doctor communication led to a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, a patient may have a valid medical malpractice claim. An attorney could help file the claim and represent the patient during negotiations or a trial if a resolution is not reached.

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