Sit for a spell, doc

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

Here’s one way to stretch what lit­tle time doc­tors have to spend with pa­tients: Pull up a seat.

Re­sults of a small study done at the Uni­ver­sity of Kansas Hospi­tal sug­gest that doc­tors who sit by pa­tients’ bed­sides ap­pear to stay longer than those who stand.

For more than a year, re­searchers at the Kansas City teach­ing hospi­tal timed one neu­ro­sur­geon as he met with 120 pa­tients while on rounds, ac­cord­ing to an un­pub­lished pa­per.

The doc­tor, who was ran­domly as­signed when to sit or stand, spent roughly 24 sec­onds longer, on av­er­age, dur­ing vis­its when he stood. But pa­tients in­ter­viewed af­ter the doc­tor left the room de­scribed the visit as sig­nif­i­cantly longer in cases when the sur­geon sat.

This may not be so sur­pris­ing. Of 38 pa­tients who were asked to fur­ther de­scribe the visit, nearly all gave a fa­vor­able re­port when the doc­tor sat (19 of 20 pa­tients) and even com­mented on how the doc­tor sat at­ten­tively to lis­ten, the re­search said. Fewer were as happy (11 of 18) when the doc­tor stood.

What did seem odd was just how long pa­tients per­ceived the doc­tor’s visit lasted. On av­er­age, pa­tients es­ti­mated the doc­tor stayed for nearly 4 min­utes (3 min­utes, 44 sec­onds) when he stood, de­spite the fact his av­er­age stand­ing visit lasted 88 sec­onds. When the sur­geon sat, vis­its were ac­tu­ally shorter (1 minute, 4 sec­onds) but seemed longer (5 min­utes, 14 sec­onds), on av­er­age.

Doc, wouldn’t you rather sit down?

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