Doctor's letters - personality evaluations

Discussion in 'General clinical care' started by Hutan, Jul 10, 2023.

  1. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Aotearoa New Zealand
    Doctors' tendency to include a comment about the personality of the person they see in their clinical letters was noted on a Members' Only thread.

    I googled to see if other people found the practice rather patronising, and certainly unnecessary. I found this:

    Yes, Many People Are “Pleasant” or “Delightful,” Even “Lovely” — But Should That Be in the Medical Note?
    It's interesting to read the comments to this piece. Some say that they know that patients can get access to the letters, and they want them to know that they enjoyed meeting them. Others say that they put it in nearly all their letters, again because they know patients read them, and they want to offset any description they see as a criticism such as 'obese'.

    A number of commenters acknowledge that the personality description serves as a code for themselves and their colleagues about whether the patient was or was not difficult. I find this pretty concerning. e.g.
    It sounds as if the doctor's effort for their patient is dependent on how much they like them. I recall a study that found that we feel more favourably towards people we have helped. So, joining the dots, people that the doctor can't help, and who perhaps have come across as less than pleasant due to exasperation and exhaustion, will not receive the same quality of care.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2023
  2. duncan

    duncan Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I wonder how doctors' evaluations might change over years if the patient morphs from one with typical issues to one with chronic issues that the clinician cannot help.

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