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Trust is the foundation of a doctor-patient relationship: Dr K K Aggarwal

New Delhi: “There is a need to raise awareness on the fact that doctor-patient trust is the foundation of the practice of medicine. It is a fiduciary relationship, the latter being the Latin word for ‘confidence’ or ‘trust’, according to Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI)

As per a recent study, patients who had higher levels of trust in their doctors took their blood pressure medicine 93% of the time versus 82% for those who had lower levels of trust. Additionally, having trust in the medical profession was linked to greater resilience (ability to adapt to difficult life circumstances) and better health-related quality of life.

A patient who does not trust his doctor will not confide in him nor will he be motivated to adhere to the prescribed treatment plan. Modern medicine today is patient-centric based on partnership, where the patient is an equal partner in the diagnostic and therapeutic process. Patients rely on doctors to take care of their health, so it is important that patients trust their doctors, said Dr Aggarwal.

Dr Aggarwal, who is also Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, further said, “Lack of communication is a major cause of disputes between doctors and patients today. This can be tackled by the triad of planning, communication and documentation, where planning means observations and treatment decided by the doctor and if the same is communicated to the patient, documented and then implemented, there can never be a dispute. Any disparity between your plan and the outcome leads to a dispute. A patient who does not trust his doctor will not confide in him nor will he be motivated to adhere to the prescribed treatment plan.”

He added, “The five components of a better doctor-patient relationship are: Acknowledge, Introduce, Explain, Define the duration of time and finally Thank the patients. If you cannot practice compassion-based medicine, then at least practice etiquette-based medicine. The three components of a good doctor are: Available, Behaviour and Competency. Remember that an available and well-behaved doctor is much more important than a doctor who is competent.”

“Modern medicine today is patient-centric based on partnership, where the patient is an equal partner in the diagnostic and therapeutic process. Be courteous with the patients and explain the management plan in a language that they can understand. This is the concept of informed consent,” he suggested.

According to Dr Aggarwal, to build a successful doctor-patient relationship, doctors should:

  • Do what they say: “For example, if you have told your patient that you would be late by one hour, make sure that it is only one hour and not later than that.”
  • Document what they speak and
  • Preserve what they document

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