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How long should a doctor spend with a patient?

Despite the advances made in diagnostic medicine in recent years, a good deal of the reasoning that goes into diagnosing medical conditions comes from simple observation. That means that when you go to a doctor’s office, hospital clinic or emergency department in Toledo, much of the decision-making related to your care will be driven by what the doctor treating you sees. It goes without saying, then, that they need to see you long enough to develop a definitive diagnosis. Yet does the amount of time that doctors typically dedicate to patients allow for that?

Information shared by Reuters shows that, on average, American doctors spend about 20 minutes with their patients. In some situations, that may be more than enough. For example, if you are being seen for something that you are confident is not life-threatening or for which the source of your pain or discomfort is evident (say, an injury), then your doctor may not need to spend a great deal of time with you in order to diagnose you. The same may be said for visits that occur in a family practice setting (where more serious injuries and ailments are usually redirected to places offering a more advanced level of care).

Yet this does not mean that the “treat and street” mentality is appropriate in general. For you to gauge whether a doctor dedicated enough time to you, consider two factors. First, they should have been able to perform the following:

  • A review of your medical history
  • A discussion regarding your symptoms
  • An assessment of your major body systems

Second, your doctor should spend enough time with you to answer all of your questions. Not meeting either expectation could be a sign that your care is being rushed (which might ultimately lead to diagnostic or treatment errors).

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Johnson & Associates, Attorneys At Law
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