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Improving Doctor-Patient Communication

Almost 80 percent of all medical diagnoses can be made from a patient’s history and current symptoms. When doctors don’t actively listen and patients are passive, the wrong diagnosis can be made. According to Leana Wen, M.D., patients often describe their symptoms but don’t tell their entire story. Because doctors have limited interaction time, patients should tell their story clearly and concisely. She suggests patients practice their story with friends and family before going to the doctor, allowing them to focus on key points while leaving out extraneous details. Asking the doctor what they are thinking and providing feedback can lead to an honest discussion and possibly a diagnosis.