Frederic W. Platt and David L. Gaspar

This eminently practical piece offers five key questions that every budding physician needs to ask to know their patient as a person. From Ed.

Patient: That specialist you sent me to is probably a pretty good doctor, but you can’t talk to him.

Physician: What do you mean?

Patient: Well, he just didn’t seem interested in what I had to tell him. He might know about kidneys but he didn’t want to know what I was worried about.

This disgruntled patient is not the first to wish that his physician would focus more attention on his concerns, feelings, and ideas. Many patients complain similarly, identifying a critical weakness in the medical interview and subsequent treatment. Unfortunately, patients may feel this way even about physicians who are highly experienced and very skilled technically. Inattention to the person of the patient, to the patient’s characteristics and concerns, leads to inadequate clinical data-gathering, nonadherence, and poor outcomes (1-14).

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