Does good bedside manner mean a better doctor?

If you believe patient rating sites, the answer is yes.

Pauline Chen takes a look at one site, and found that “reviewers gave less-than-passing, and even failing, grades to those physicians who seemed rushed, brusque or distracted; and they uniformly gave ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’ to doctors who were warm, concerned and focused.”

I’m going to assume that’s a finding common to the majority of physician rating sites.

It’s also a reason why mid-levels generally have satisfaction scores that meet, or exceed, those of physicians. Under no financial pressure to see 30+ patients a day, they are able to spend the necessary time with patients seeing only fifteen or so. Doctors however, don’t have that luxury. If physicians were able to practice seeing half the patients they currently do, I suspect their scores will rise accordingly.

But I digress. The point remains, good bedside manner does not necessarily equate to better patient outcomes. The surgeon who is a jerk may have the best technical skill in the operating room. That’s the doctor I want for surgery.

It’s a shame that most rating sites fail to acknowledge that.