Module 4 – General information

In general, in clinical medicine it is of uttermost importance to receive detailed information. The more detailed and relevant the information is, the faster and more reliably a diagnosis can be created. Therefore, this chapter serves reviving the basics of good doctor-patient communication.

The most common mistakes leading to communication problems are the following:

  • Using complicated words: Often patients are too excited or shy to ask a physician/ health care worker when they do not understand a medical expression. Therefore it is important to keep things as simple as possible.
  • Interrupting too quickly: Interrupting too quickly can make it more difficult to get the needed information.
  • Lack of structure: Consulting a doctor/ physician/ health care provider is not a thing of every day’s life. If a conversation in a clinical setting lacks structure, patients often get confused or forget to tell important things.
  • Suggestive Questions: Such questions do not allow patients to express themselves freely and information might get lost.
  • Immediate validation of a patients statements: E.g. if patients tell you that they do not want to take antibiotics for pneumonia, doctors/ physicians/ health care workers will not encourage compliance if they immediately tell them how bad this is for their health. The solution is to figure out why the patient does not want to take antibiotics (bad experiences in the past etc.).

Everybody has her or his own “internal orientation map” how to deal with other persons and the surrounding word in general. This internal orientation map is influence by:

  • education
  • socialization
  • belief systems
  • experiences
  • „Agreements made with life“

Individual internal orientation map are unique but also susceptible of change. In order to avoid misunderstandings, good communication is important:  we need to communicate about the different orientation maps, about different points of view, as it is not a matter of course that everybody means the same.



Source: Kwaliteitsnorm tolkgebruik bij anderstaligen in de zorg [Dutch]