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Study: Common Courtesy Results in Better Healthcare

Cropped SingleCare logo By | September 25, 2015

Getting medical treatment can be stressful, but it pays to be a patient patient — a recent study has shown that being rude to your doctor can lead to lower quality of care.

While it’s a good idea to treat everyone with kindness, a recent study published in Pediatrics shows that you might benefit from giving one person more respect than anyone else: your doctor. When you’re seeking medical treatment, common courtesy goes farther than just the Golden Rule — it could actually improve your quality of care.

More Flies with Honey

Taylor Foulk, a doctoral student at the University of Florida, has been investigating how rudeness affects us as humans when we’re on the job. As it turns out, if someone is rude to you, you’re more likely to make mistakes and see an overall decrease in performance. Doctors are no exception.

In The Conversation, Foulk writes, “If you are…making a hamburger for dinner, the costs of mistakes are inconvenient. Imagine if you are a doctor working on an infant in the NICU. Suddenly, the costs of simple mistakes caused by rudeness become much bigger.”

Practicing Medicine and Kindness

In the study, 24 teams of medical researchers from different countries around the world were asked to diagnose an infant’s illness in a simulated neonatal intensive care unit. The mystery illness was necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal inflammation known for its rapid development. The researchers hoped that such an intense simulated environment would bring the effects of rudeness to the fore.

Before the doctors could start the procedure, they received a “welcome” message from another physician: either the doctor was friendly and kind, or he made a rude, offhanded remark about the low quality of medical care in a visiting team’s home country. Then, teams were asked to diagnose and treat the child.

Foulk and his team were blown away by the results. The groups that received a kind message excelled, successfully diagnosing the disease and effectively treating it. But the groups that received a rude message not only took longer to diagnose the problem, but were also less likely to conduct the required procedure successfully.

To be fair, doctors could be more sensitive to criticism from an unknown peer than from a patient they’re attempting to help. Still, this research shows that even the most highly-trained medical professionals aren’t immune from the effects of a bruised ego, and with so much at stake, it’s safe to assume that being impatient or impolite with your doctor will do little to improve your care.

However you interpret them, the results highlights the critical importance of establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with your doctor, as Chris Mills points out in Gizmodo. But it turns out that good karma isn’t the only reason to make us think twice before snapping at our doctors — if you want quality treatment, you always, under any circumstance, should make the effort to show your doctor simple kindness.

SingleCare Cares

It’s no secret that healthcare is expensive, and if you’re paying too much for medical treatment, it can be hard not to snap at your doctor in a moment of stress. Fortunately, SingleCare makes it easy to be nice.

With SingleCare, you can find a price that’s right for you. Through our expansive network of medical professionals, you can pick from a host of low, up-front prices before you even make an appointment. Plus, there’s no monthly fee, and you only pay for the treatment that you receive.

Recent research shows us that something as simple as a respectful approach can have a big impact. At SingleCare, we’re giving some of that kindness back to you — check out our network of healthcare professionals, find quality care at affordable prices, and receive the treatment that you deserve.

(Main image credit: Wikimedia)