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July 5, 1995

Malpractice, Patient Satisfaction, and Physician-Patient Communication

Author Affiliations

University of Massachusetts Medical Center Worcester

JAMA. 1995;274(1):22. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530010036017

To the Editor.  —We strongly agree with Dr Hickson and colleagues1 that interpersonal aspects of care, especially those relating to physician-patient communication, are the most important predictors of patient satisfaction and consequent likelihood to institute a malpractice action. Our experience supports Dr Levinson's suggestion in the accompanying Editorial2 that experienced physicians and other clinicians can improve communication skills and patient satisfaction through education and practice.In 1991, the patient relations department of the Fallon Clinic, a 250-physician multispecialty group practice, reported that the obstetrics/gynecology department was receiving patient complaints and concerns that exceeded other clinic departments. A patient satisfaction survey found relatively low scores on four questions. The questions probed quality of care, physician-patient communication, and access-risk factors similar to those demonstrated by Hickson et al to correlate with likelihood for suit. The departmental chair, the office of the medical director, and the University of Massachusetts Medical Center

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