The Intelligent Patient's Guide to the Doctor-Patient Relationship: Learning How to Talk So Your Doctor Will Listen

Barbara Korsch, Author, Caroline Harding, With Oxford University Press, USA $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-19-510264-2
Relationships between doctors and patients have always been somewhat addled. The doctors are in a position of power; the patients are often anxious and struggling to understand what they're being told. With the growth of HMOs, getting the most out of one's relationship with the physician has become both more problematic and more crucial. Korsch, a professor at the Southern California School of Medicine, uses transcripts of actual medical visits to demonstrate how communication often breaks down, then analyzes how the breakdown could have been avoided. She shows patients how to prioritize their concerns (don't complain to the doctor about parking), phrase their comments assertively (yet not aggressively) and insist on clear answers. Being assertive is key to surviving a hospital stay, too, and Korsch offers recommendations on everything from admissions to getting the nurses on your side. She also tells what to do and not to do when your child is the patient. Korsch urges patients to have realistic expectations of the doctor-patient encounter, explaining that feeling is often trained out of doctors by an educational process that values competence above sensitivity. As for managed care, she observes that whatever the system, it's still individual relationships that matter most. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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