What to do about patients who ramble

Doctors are often criticized for not spending enough time with patients or for not giving them enough time to talk. A widely quoted study claims that doctors interrupt patients within 7 seconds of the start of the consultation.

While doctors can learn a lot by listening to our patients, all of us have encountered those patients who ramble on and on and provide lots of irrelevant information. This wastes our time and can cause us to run behind schedule, thus affecting our ability to care for other patients.

Aniruddha Malpani, MD “We need to focus on obtaining information from patients that is medically useful, so that we can make the right diagnosis, prescribe the right treatment, and move on to treating the next patient.”
-Aniruddha Malpani, MD, medical director of Malpani Infertility Clinic in Mumbai, India, and author of a physician and patient education blog

Patients who are organized and prepare for an appointment enhance the interaction—for them and for us. My staff and I often give patients advice on...

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