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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

4 reasons your doctor doesn't listen

By Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. posted in Doctor Errors on Friday, March 03, 2017.

You're obsessing over your health issues, even before you go to the doctor. You never thought much about these things when you were younger, but now you're in your 50s and you know how important it is to pay attention to your health.

You're obsessing over your health issues, even before you go to the doctor. You never thought much about these things when you were younger, but now you're in your 50s and you know how important it is to pay attention to your health.

Then you get to the doctor, and you start talking about these things that have been consuming your attention. You want the doctor to know everything, make the right diagnosis, and give you the best possible treatment. After 17 seconds, though, your doctor cuts you off and won't listen.

The aforementioned 17 seconds isn't a random amount of time. As absurdly small as it is, studies have shown that's the average amount of time doctors listen before cutting in. Below are four big reasons why doctors don't listen:

1. Devices are distracting

Your doctor probably has his or her phone close at hand, if not literally in hand. Electronic devices are very distracting, and some doctors are looking at schedules, communicating with other doctors or working with electronic health records as they talk to you.

2. The doctor tries to focus on one complaint

You may have a lot of symptoms, but doctors are like detectives. They want to get to the bottom of it and figure out what the main complaint is. Once they think they have it, they may ignore other information or even cut you off if you bring up "unimportant" points. The problem is that ignoring certain symptoms could lead to the wrong diagnosis or improper treatment.

3. There's no time

No matter how long you sat in the waiting room, experts claim that doctors in hospitals often have an average of 11 minutes to spend with you. Your primary care doctor may have more, but it could only be 15 minutes. You've spent hours thinking about this, but doctors may be checked out after just a few minutes, trying to get you out the door so that they can get on to the next person on the list.

4. Your doctor is biased against you

Doctors may not be intentionally biased or even act that way on purpose, but it's an unfortunate reality. A study was done back in 2004, targeting patients and their primary care doctors. It found that white doctors who were meeting with African American patients tended to listen less and talk more. So, if you feel like your doctor is ignoring what you say and trying to talk over you, that could be the reason.

If your doctor ignored you, cut you off, and then went on to make a critical mistake or to make the wrong diagnosis, you may be able to seek compensation. You deserve better care than that. It's important to know your rights, and a good way to find out is with a free consultation.

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