Sit for a spell, doc
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the Kansas City teaching hospital timed one neurosurgeon as he met with 120 patients while on rounds, according to an unpublished paper.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?