Improving Patient Communications

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Managed Care Ethical Considerations

By Render S. Davis; MHA, CHE

In contemporary medicine, and managed care, ethical dilemmas in communications are increasingly common and may come in many different forms. For example:
  • Physician’s failing to communicate necessary clinical information to patients in terms and language the patients can truly understand;
  • Physicians’ offering only limited treatment choices to patients because alternatives may not be covered by the patient’s insurance plan;
  • Failures to disclose financial incentives and other payment arrangements that may influence the physician’s treatment recommendations;
  • Time constraints that limit opportunities for in-depth discussions between patients and their doctors; and,
  • The lack of a continuing relationship between the patient and physician that would foster open communications; etc.             



Most so-called “gag clauses,” implemented by some managed care organizations to prohibit physicians from informing their patients about non-covered treatment alternatives have been declared illegal in most states. Nevertheless, does the physician’s duty to be fully truthful and informative in patient communications, remain under suspicion? Please opine with your experiences and how we might improve.    

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One Response

  1. To Be Sued Less, Doctors Should Consider Talking to Patients More

    According to AARON E. CARROLL MD, studies say that good communication matters more than anything else in preventing malpractice suits.

    Hope Hetico RN MHA


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