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“ There are two sorts of doctors: those who practice with their brains and those who practice with their tongues”

-William Osler

The big evolutionary step that is relevant to the mechanism of the doctor-patient relationship occurred when animals started grooming others rather than themselves. It represents an elementary form of medical care. It is the first example of social interaction. The doctor-patient relationship is considered to be the core element in the ethical principles of medicine. The people used to exhibit a lot of faith in doctors and at the same time, doctors exhibited high traditions of Hippocratic oath and morals enshrined in Vedas where the doctors’ aim was total dedication towards treating ailing living beings. Doctors were considered as demi-gods.

With the passage of time, setting up of corporate hospitals and commercial mottos the sacred doctor-patient relationship is spoiled. Thereby in today’s scenario, there is a deficit in the doctor-patient relationship which is leading to chaos. Continuity of care is something that is known to improve patient satisfaction and patient outcomes. You should be able to see the humanity on the other side of the white coat. It makes sense that if a patient trusts his doctor, the doctor will be in a better position to know the patient’s illness. This is a milestone in a doctor-patient relationship.

Various studies have shown that patients who went back to the same physician had a lower chance of dying, compared to patients who visited different doctors. The rationale for this is when you see the same physician you would talk more freely and give the doctor more information and build up a harmonious relationship with the doctor. This highlights the importance of relationships in the well being of an individual including in the medical care. A word of care and sympathy by a doctor to his sick patient can really restore a patient’s faith and confidence.

But today’s visual of deteriorating doctor-patient relationship was a manifestation system-wide malaise of decreasing respect for institutions, decrease in the value system and increasing violence and materialism. The lack of trust in a doctor-patient relationship is increasing the laws and regulations being imposed on the medical sector. In doctor-patient relationship, honesty is important from doctor’s point of view and a provider who listens, followed by one who is compassionate and one who can clearly explain what any medical problem is and how it will be treated is needed from patient’s point of view. Patient with a lower level of trust in their physician is more likely to report that requested or needed services are not provided. Understanding this relationship may lead to better ways of responding to patient requests that preserve or enhance patient trust, leading to better outcomes. A person may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Every doctor should put in efforts to develop a good doctor-patient relationship to treat the patient who has the disease rather than treating the disease.


“The doctor-patient relationship is critical to the placebo effect”

Irwing Kirsch

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