As in all branches of healthcare, the doctor-patient relationship is paramount to the practice of chiropractic, but is an extremely complex interpersonal exchange. The relationship must be strong and be based on good communication, openness and trust in order to facilitate a proper diagnosis and treatment. The patient must trust his chiropractor and have confidence in his training, competence and continuity. The chiropractor should be adept at making patients feel at ease and developing rapport. A sense of humor is important for making a patient feel comfortable and reducing tension.
The doctor-patient relationship is the cornerstone of medical ethics and goes well beyond the legal covenant of patient privilege. The doctor of chiropractic has numerous duties to the patient in their partnership, including:
- Beneficence – assisting the patient in improving his or her health and conditions
- Non-malfeasance – first, do no harm
- Respect for patient autonomy, choice and individuality
- Respect for patient dignity, privacy and right to confidentiality
- The doctor’s role is to guide the patient in making treatment decisions in the patient’s best interest.
The chiropractor should be available to patients in an emergency situation, willing to return phone calls to answer reasonable questions and prompt in reporting test results to patients.
Patients can assist in the doctor-patient relationship by:
- Being prepared with their questions and concerns in advance of a visit
- Respecting the doctor’s time and professional boundaries
- Ensuring their chiropractor has an up-to-date listing of their medications, surgeries, allergies and health conditions
- Ensuring third-party payer arrangements and financial obligations are met
- Having realistic expectations in their goals
- Be willing to be an active participant in his or her treatment plan
A good Patient Provider Interaction Resource can be found here.