Justinian Lane

NY Times writes that many patients don’t trust their doctors

Happy patients who trust their doctors are less likely to sue than unhappy patients who distrust their doctors.  Too bad there are so many unhappy, distrustful patients.

About one in four patients feel that their physicians sometimes expose them to unnecessary risk, according to data from a Johns Hopkins study published this year in the journal Medicine. And two recent studies show that whether patients trust a doctor strongly influences whether they take their medication.

The distrust and animosity between doctors and patients has shown up in a variety of places. In bookstores, there is now a genre of “what your doctor won’t tell you” books promising previously withheld information on everything from weight loss to heart disease.

The Internet is bristling with frustrated comments from patients. On The New York Times’s Well blog recently, a reader named Tom echoed the concerns of many about doctors. “I, as patient, say stop acting like you know everything,” he wrote. “Admit it, and we patients may stop distrusting your quick off-the-line, glib diagnosis.”

Source: Well - Contentious Relationships Between Doctors and Patients -

Who among us hasn’t felt like our doctors have been overly dismissive of our concerns?  Besides wealthy patients receiving botox, anyway. 

Justinian Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 12:33 PM, Jul 29, 2008 in Medical Errors | Medical Malpractice
Permalink | Email to Friend


I see lots of unhappy patients. They tend to get that way when you have to tell them that they have cancer. They first go into denial, then there is a period of intense anger and finally acceptance. Patients also tend to get frustrated when you have to tell them what they don't want to hear. "Your back pain is because your spine is made to support 160# not 440#". "Your cancer is related to your smoking."

Posted by: throckmorton | July 29, 2008 1:22 PM

Maybe they should go to a different doctor. I doubt they'd ever be satisfied.

I'd like to see the same research done for lawyers.

Posted by: Adam | July 29, 2008 1:32 PM

Patients who have time to complain about doctors are not sick enough to need a doctor. They are malcontents with time on their hands. The really sick patient does not have the energy or desire to correct the doctor. He just wants relief. These are likely disgruntled mental patients. Most doctors would love to get rid of them.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 29, 2008 9:10 PM

Rate NY doctors at (not-for-profit website)

Posted by: Rob | September 16, 2008 10:02 PM

I don't trust my doctor. If I am going to get any true results and a fresh eye, I would want to have at least 3 opinions before anyone starts messing with my life. There only human and the do make mistakes.

Posted by: Ajlouny | October 18, 2008 8:54 PM

some of these responses say a lot about how the commenters value human life and human health, and people's right to fight for a dignified health care experience. the first 3 comments on this thread reflect the total lack of sympathy and sensitivity that many patients experience in interactions with their physicians. as someone who has been fortunate to have a long string of excellent doctors, but who has also witnessed some really alienating experiences, the whole point of the above article is simple: people working with others in a professional capacity need to get off the high horse, establish some trust, and listen to what their clients/patients are saying. in the case of the doctor/patient relationship, that means have some mediocre bedside manner, treat people like they're not expendable, answer people's questions in a way that's not condescending. that way when adverse events happen people won't wonder if you were hiding something from them, if you didn't care, if you made a mistake and tried to cover it up, or any of the other quite normal things that people wonder when they deal with someone they don't feel like they can trust.

Posted by: Kia | October 22, 2008 11:23 AM