Difficult Patients, Take Note

Patients might want to check their attitude: doctors are more likely to misdiagnose patients who are jerks, 2 new studies from the Netherlands confirm.

The research, published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, backs the idea that doctors are more likely to make bad calls when treating disruptive, rude patients (aggressive, or questioning the doctor’s credentials, for example).

In one study, doctors diagnosing difficult patients in complex cases made 42% more mistakes diagnosing difficult patients compared with more agreeable ones.

Another study showed that diagnostic accuracy was 20% lower for tough patients; doctors tended to remember their behavior more than their clinical histories.


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