Your bedside manner matters. Doctors with poor attitudes or communication skills are more likely to face complaints with regulatory agencies than their more personable colleagues, a recent study shows.

 

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal followed all 3,424 physicians who took the Canadian licensure test between 1993 and 1996. By 2005, 21.5% had at least one complaint filed against them with regulatory agencies, with 17.1% retained upon investigation. Almost half the complaints (49.1%) were for communication and attitude issues.

 


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Also, the risk of complaint was “significantly greater among physicians in the lowest quartile of communication scores” on the exam. “Direct observation and assessment of patient communication skills may be useful in identifying those more likely to experience difficulties in practice,” the authors concluded in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2007;298:993-1001).