Stephen Krieger: Bridging the Communication Gap in Medical Referrals

Doctors treating patients for a variety of conditions may all have the same goals in helping the patient but may have difficulty communicating those goals with their colleagues.

Doctors treating patients for a variety of conditions may all have the same goals in helping the patient but may have difficulty communicating those goals with their colleagues.

Stephen Krieger, MD, Mount Sinai Hospital, said that as an educator one of the things that interests him is “how do doctors learn: how do they learn right and how do they learn wrong.” Oftentimes, a consultation question from a doctor in another field often doesn’t make any sense, and is inappropriate.

“People think what they know is common sense,” Krieger said. Often this is a communication gap based on this assumption. “Everybody in medicine speaks a different language.”

Krieger said you have to educate colleagues and patients on common ground. Training the next generation to not assume that everyone knows what they know is “also a step in the right direction.” Interpersonal or inter-discipline care can foster better collaboration. “At the end of the day it is all about patients,” Krieger said. Working on assumptions could lead to bad referrals and waits the patient’s time and does not lead to their proper care, he said.