Talking As A Cure/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on April 15, 2013


A recent article by Laura Landro appeared in the Wall Street Journal on the topic of communication and the doctor-patient relationship. One fascinating insight was that 44% of patients do not know why they are going to have surgery. When such important events are not properly understood it becomes clear that better communication is needed. One of the proponents of improved communication in medical discussions is Ms. Linda Bernstein. Her directive is simply stated: “To be a good doctor, you have to have the ability to listen to the patients.”

Communication, to be effective, can be rather elementary. An example is cited of a doctor drawing a curtain around a patient. If no explanation is offered, the patient may read too much in such an action. A simple explanation of “I drew the curtain to give you more privacy” is sufficient to afford reassurance and to exhibit concern for the patient’s welfare. It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that malpractice suits often arise when communication between doctor and patient has been poor. Well-chosen words can go a long way to accomplishing important goals and to promoting positive relationships.

In the process of divorce, communication can give the parties hope and belief that they will be able to keep their dignity intact at a time of great challenge and anxiety. Even where conversations do not go well, the idea of problem-solving and getting to Win-Win  can still predominate. Mediated discussions can allow each party to feel they have maintained their dignity and basic humanity. It may not be the ultimate, but such feelings are superior to all other alternatives. Speech can be used as a cure; mediation makes this possible.