When medical care is delivered in 15-minute doses, there’s not much time for caring

I have 15 minutes. I’m generally not happy that, as an internist who works for a large medical group (most of us do now), I’m instructed to conform to this assigned length for visits with my patients. Being told to arrive at 2:45 p.m. makes it clear to patients that every doctor-hour is broken into quarters. But the pressure to keep to the time limit is felt primarily by the doctor, who must stick to the schedule or expect the 3 p.m. patient to come in unhappy about the wait.

A patient in any medical practice rightly wants the visit to take as long as is reasonably required. A healthy 25-year-old with a sore throat is thrilled to be out of my office in less than 10 minutes, after a focused exam and a culture. Most patients, though, don’t present a single problem that can be addressed with a targeted answer. The 15-minute visit shortchanges those patients while frustrating the doctors who want to help make them well.

– The Washington Post

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