We rate holidays, restaurants and retail purchases, but is it wise to rate doctors ?
Going to the doctor is not quite like buying an ice cream. Patients are not always in a position to effectively judge outcomes as there are many variables including the degree of risk and the complexity of the individual’s health. Rating a doctor could negatively influence another persons decision and this could potentially result in them missing out on good health care.
What patients can judge, and should judge is communication. There is rarely an excuse for poor communication. We may still choose to go to a rude obnoxious brain surgeon because he/she is highly regarded for their skills.But this does not provide an excuse for their poor communication.
In reality, we often seem to have little choice when it comes to doctors . Accidents and sickness catch us by surprise and one can land in hospital without having time to consider options.
Some of the worse communication that I have come across has been from doctors working in Palliative Care, and No, I did not rate them. These were not doctors one chooses, they were doctors imposed on unfortunate people by the public health system. It seems that the people who are considered to have the least value are not seen as worthy of good medical care.
Communication is a foundational function of palliative care and I cannot understand how or why these doctors come to work in this area of health care. People get hurt and traumatised by watching loved ones receive poor treatment. The grieving and traumatised are unlikely to speak out.
Often poor communication is the result of the culture within health services and hospitals. The culture of hospitals can have a negative effect on doctors. Medical professionals have high rates of depression and burn out. We hear increasing reports of bullying by senior doctors in large hospitals.
In my experience one can try to speak out about poor care but there seems to be no one willing listen. Hospital managements seem to be experts at wiping issues aside and ignoring patient concerns. The health ombudsman seems to be very ineffective in most cases. The politicians and Health Ministers seem to be only concerned with their own careers.
In Australia, there is not enough people rating doctors to provide any useful data.
Yes !- we should rate doctors and we should not be silent when bad medical care is received. Rate the hospital, write to the hospital CEO, go to the health ombudsman, and go to the Health Ministers.
Australians stay silent, and silence does not work.