Categories: FirmNews, Health Care, Medical Malpractice Defense,

Doctors know that when stubborn patients choose not to listen to their diagnoses or the medical advice they have been given, they run the risk of causing more harm to themselves, and may even end up sicker than they were during their initial visit. Additionally, the doctors themselves are at risk for potential lawsuits or liability claims, especially if a stubborn patient is displeased with the advice he or she has received, medical malpractice defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale say. Handling these patients requires patience, care, and sometimes, a great deal of coaxing. 

Recent studies have uncovered a special trick that doctors across the country are using to ensure compliance from even the most tenacious of patients, with highly positive results. In one study of over 200 obese women, all suffering from Type 2 diabetes, the women who lost the most weight and reduced their A1C levels most significantly were those who worked with doctors using this technique. Another study of 2,500 teens who smoked cigarettes found that when doctors used this technique, the abstinence rates were significantly higher over a two-year period. 

The technique itself is a way of talking approaching the patient in a manner designed to prompt the resistance to comply with doctor’s orders, and work on eliminating that resistance. This technique is called “motivational interviewing,” and was first introduced in 1983 by a psychologist who wanted to change behavior patterns for alcoholics and drug addicts. The doctor postulated that showing empathy, being nonjudgmental, and asking simple, pointed questions would make a positive impact on stubborn patients, allowing them to acknowledge what caused their resistance to compliance. It also allowed them to acknowledge what would make them want to change, and to get over their resistance. 

In the past several years, motivational interviewing has had so much success, that doctors of other practices have adapted the technique for their own uses. They have expanded it to help cancer patients, persons with diabetes, chronically ill patients, and those suffering from a host of other conditions. Doctors and medical students learn the technique as taught in hospitals such as Massachusetts General, and medical schools like Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Colorado College of Nursing. Even Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan teaches the method as part of its insurance practice.  

Motivational interviewing’s original method, which was specifically set up for addiction counselors, relied on several long patient visits. However, this proved to be too much time to fit into a primary care physician’s schedule. Teaching experts have boiled down the method over the last few years to create a solution that is more manageable for today’s busy doctors, but still gets the same results for patients who do not want to follow their doctors’ orders. The more streamlined version has been renamed the “motivational communication” technique, and has been used to similar success. 

At Lubell Rosen, our medical malpractice defense attorneys represent doctors and other medical professionals who are facing legal action from a patient. For legal advice in Georgia, Florida, New Jersey or New York, contact an attorney at one of our Lubell Rosen offices today.