How Surgeons Can Communicate Better with Their Patients

Effective communication between surgeons and their patients is just as important as the quality of the care provided. In a recent article published in MedPage Today titled “How Well Do You Communicate with Your Patients?” Dr. Suneel Dhand offers a few tips for doctors to improve their communication with patients. In this article, I’m going to walk through these excellent tips for better surgeon / patient communication.

Sit Down

Literally. Take a seat and look the patient in the eye when you’re talking to them. Some surgeons have an unintentional habit of standing over patients when discussing treatment or delivering results. Standing over a patient and physically talking down to them is not ideal. Surgeons would prefer to spend the time to engage with patients. However, most of us are busy and want to be as efficient as possible. Without taking any extra time, just sitting down and conversing with a patient can make a significant impact in your relationship with patients.


Surgeons also have a bad habit of interrupting patients when they’re talking. Again, surgeons are busy and want to get to as many patients as they can, but you should let the patient talk and listen to their concerns. This will make the patient feel more valued than if you just zip in, talk at them for a few minutes, and send them on their way. Data shows that the vast majority won’t take any more of your time with this approach.

Involve the Family

In many cases, involving the patient’s family can make a huge difference in your ability to provide the best possible care. Patients are often confused, scared, or overwhelmed and may not be making the best decisions about their care. It’s often good to talk with a close family member who may be more objective and able to talk to the patient about their care options.

It can be difficult to implement these communication strategies into your own practice. But better communication leads to better surgeon / patient relationships and, ultimately, better patient care and outcomes.

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