Docs, Patients Perceive Care Differently

August 11, 2010

Findings from a new study suggest that there is a "significant" gap between how patients and physicians view patient awareness of diagnoses and treatments in the hospital setting.

Findings from a new study suggest that there is a “significant” gap between how patients and physicians view patient awareness of diagnoses and treatments in the hospital setting.

Douglas P. Olson, MD, and Donna M. Windish, MD, from the Yale University School of Medicine, distributed a survey to inpatients at a teaching hospital asking about the experience they had being treated by house staff. Another questionnaire was distributed to residents and attending physicians asking them to report on their care of hospitalized patients and their understanding of their patients’ perspectives on the care received during an eight-month period.

The results, which were reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest that there is a sizeable disconnect in perceptions between the two groups. Despite that the fact that 67% of responding physicians believed that patients knew their names, just 18% patients reported this was the case. The majority of physicians (77%) believed patients knew their diagnosis; however, 57% of patients agreed.

Also of note, “a total of 58% of patients thought that physicians always explained things in a comprehensible way, compared with 21% of physicians who stated they always provided explanations of some kind.” And finally, “two-thirds of patients reported receiving a new medication in the hospital, yet 90% noted never being told of any adverse effects of these medications.”

In light of these results, the authors believe that “steps to improve patient-physician communication should be identified and implemented.”