We all know people who constantly interrupt. They think they know what we’re about to say, so they finish our sentences for us. As we’re speaking, they’re reminded of something that impacts them, so they hijack our story and tell their own. Often, they’re not even listening to us. They just interrupt and take over the conversation.
This is annoying in social situations. However, when a physician or other medical professional is constantly interrupting patients who are trying to describe symptoms or express concerns, it can be dangerous.
While both men and women can be guilty of interrupting, men tend to do it more frequently. They’re also more likely to interrupt women than other men — so much so that it’s been dubbed “manterrupting.”
When medical professionals (male or female) interrupt patients, they increase the risk of medical error because they’re not fully listening to what their patient is telling them. If they continue to interrupt, a patient may give up trying to communicate their concerns at all. This can lead to serious and potentially fatal outcomes. At the very least, the patient doesn’t feel that their needs are being met.
When physicians have a habit of interrupting their colleagues, whether when discussing a specific case or a general medical topic, they also contribute to errors, compliance issues and lack of innovation. People often stop sharing their ideas if they believe they won’t be listened to or valued.
When people in authority in medical settings are constantly interrupting their colleagues and those who work for them, they increase stress levels, staff burnout and turnover rates. All of this can impact the quality of patient care.
If you’re a patient, it’s crucial to make sure that the doctors and others caring for you hear you. If you believe you’re not being heard, you can and should seek out a different doctor or at least find someone in the hospital or other facility where you’re being cared for who will listen to you.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical error or substandard care, find out what your legal options are. Medical professionals can and should be held responsible for their mistakes and negligence when patients suffer harm.