Communication is important in any relationship, and the doctor-patient relationship is no different. When patients feel their physician is transparent with them and has their best interests at heart, the provision of health care typically goes more smoothly. Not only are health outcomes usually better, but patients are less likely to sue for medical malpractice in the event something does go wrong.
Ideally, physicians are able to effectively communicate and have great rapport with their patients, though not every physician has this skill to the same extent. And, of course, some patients are more difficult to care for than others. When there is a communication breakdown—and this can be difficult to avoid in some cases—physicians hopefully have resources to fall back on so that they can effectively manage the relationship and resolve and misunderstandings and disputes.
One important matter for physicians to understand about communication is that patients do have the ability to file complaints with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice when they have a bad experience with a physician. We’ve previously looked at the complaint review process on this blog. As we’ve noted, the board is specifically concerned with violations of professional obligations in reviewing complaints. Patients do have the right to file a complaint when they believe a physician may have violated ethical rules. If it is found that a physician has violated these rules, he or she may ultimately be disciplined.
In any complaint to the medical board, accuracy of information is critical in order for there to be a fair outcome. The medical board, in investigating a complaint, looks not only at the information provided by the patient in the complaint, but also at various other sources, including the accused physician. It is important, of course, for the physician to provide the best possible information to the board so that the board has the most accurate picture of what occurred. If the board does decide to pursue disciplinary action based on investigation of a complaint, strong advocacy on behalf of the physician helps ensure his or her rights are protected.