Male physicians could reduce the possibility of being sued for malpractice by taking a cue from their female counterparts when it comes to communicating risks to patients, a Florida researcher says.
Citing figures from the Physician Insurance Association of America, John Paling of the Risk Communication Institute, Gainesville, Fla., says only 6% of malpractice cases go against women doctors, even though they make up 20% of the physician population.
Paling surmises that this is because women physicians tend to suggest instead of direct, encourage open communication and, on average, spend more time with patients than male doctors do.
Paling authored a paper in the Sept. 27 British Medical Journal on strategies to help patients understand risks, focusing mostly on what physicians ask patients. "The British Medical Journal has decided to deal with what doctors keep asking (patients) for," Paling says. "What it does not deal with is how do we communicate better with patients."
Says Paling, "Scientific papers do not deal at all with the med mal risk," which he says can be mitigated by building a communicative relationship and putting patients at ease.