Dr. Spielmans has disclosed that he has no relevant financial or other interests in any commercial companies ertaining to this educational activity.
The Role of Etiquette-Based Medicine
We’ve all been told from time to time that we should mind our manners. A Boston psychiatrist, Michael Kahn, suggests that manners are not limited to dinner parties; rather, he calls for “etiquettebased medicine.” Dr. Kahn is not writing about displaying empathy toward patients (though this is certainly important) – he’s talking about simply showing common courtesy and respect. He proposes that to increase patient satisfaction, physicians should seriously consider developing protocols for proper behavior, even creating checklists that remind us how to behave in the presence of patients. For example, he devised a checklist for an initial meeting with a hospitalized patient that included: asking permission to enter the room; introducing oneself; shaking hands; sitting down (smiling if appropriate); explaining one’s role; and asking how the patient feels about being in the hospital. Such checklists could be adapted to a wide variety of situations and could be used to help train students and residents (Kahn MW, N Engl J Med 2008;358:1987-1988).
It is sad to think that physicians need to be reminded to display common courtesy; however, nearly every physician has heard patients complain of another doctor’s poor manners. Treating patients with respect is important for many reasons, one of which is that it improves adherence to treatment. Devising some simple professional routines to use during client encounters is likely a good idea; it is hard to see a downside to consistent professionalism.
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