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Bad bedside manner can cause harm

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2024 | Hospital Negligence

The demand for healthcare in New Jersey is enormous. And doctors are right on the front lines, as the face of medical expertise.

It’s a sad but unavoidable fact in the healthcare industry that mistakes will occur in the course of treatment, leading to adverse outcomes up to the death of a patient. These situations frequently lead to malpractice lawsuits. But one crucial – though frequently overlooked – factor in whether a medical mishap leads to a malpractice suit is the bedside manner of the physician.

Poor bedside manner increases malpractice lawsuit risk

Even among extremely competent doctors, bedside manner can vary significantly. Some doctors are effective and compassionate communicators, while others are more focused on delivering medical treatment with few niceties. Doctors with good bedside manner attempt to make their patients feel informed, heard and in control, while doctors with subpar bedside manner may assume they can dictate all facets of their patients’ medical care without much communication.

There’s a strong link between bedside manner and the incidence of lawsuits for malpractice, which has been documented for decades. But some physicians continue to neglect bedside manner, even to their own financial detriment.

Why bedside manner matters

Patients who interact with doctors with positive bedside manner tend to come away with a better impression of their doctor’s competence, as well as a more favorable personal impression. This is crucial when understanding the common motivation for filing malpractice lawsuits.

Three of the most commonly cited reasons patients give for filing a lawsuit are:

  • Desire to better understand the nature of the mishap
  • Desire to not let the doctor ‘get away with it’
  • Desire to stop the same thing from happening to other people

A good bedside manner can ameliorate all those issues. And as a result, patients are less likely to file suit.

Bedside manner may sometimes seem insignificant, but its effect can be dramatic. Poor bedside manner leads to worsened doctor/patient relations, which is of great relevance in how frequently patients file malpractice lawsuits.

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