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Why GPs and patients don't always see eye to eye

Much hand wringing, I’d guess, over the finding that 40% of GPs feel we’re not making enough eye contact with patients

Much hand wringing, I'd guess, over the finding that 40% of GPs feel we're not making enough eye contact with patients

As the story in last week's Pulse had it, it's all about conflicting priorities, the distraction of the computer, the diminution of the patient's agenda, yada, yada, yada.

Hang on a sec. If 40% of us are outraged at this blow to patient centredness then, by my reckoning, 60% of us aren't. In other words, almost two thirds of GPs reckon they have enough eye contact with the punters, thank you very much. Maybe more than enough. After all, in my practice area, making eye contact with someone equates to encouraging them to come and settle it outside, if you're hard enough. And I'm not.

And even if I have the rare pleasure of consulting with an individual whose neck isn't wider than his head, excessive eye contact can still be problematic. Because it could be interpreted as anything from an invitation for the patient to volunteer some ‘while I'm here, doctor,' symptoms, to a sign that, to use the local vernacular, ‘the doctor's a bit mental.'

So, I'd suggest that as the printer's merrily churning out that prescription, lock onto those QOF prompts, or stare at a stain on the ceiling, or decide now is the time to look in that cupboard you haven't opened for six months. In other words, it's far safer to view all patients as potential Medusas. And when I say ‘view them', I don't mean look at them, obviously.

Copperfield: Eye contact isn't always the safer option Copperfield: Eye contact isn't always the safer option

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