Usually we’re concerned with the vicissitudes of communicating across language barriers. But here’s another way to think about how you’re interacting with patients. Recently the New York Times explored a few of the unspoken pitfalls by which patients get a message far removed from your intentions.
For instance, are the robes you offer uncomfortable and unintentionally revealing? Is the exam room freezing? Is the waiting room TV blaring a never-ending litany of disturbing news? Do the stirrups in a gyn exam room face the door? In short, have you created a physical environment in which patients feel respected or devalued?
For a more detailed analysis of the inadvertent non-verbal messages you may be sending, see How Would You Redesign Your Doctor’s Office: The way clinics make patients feel is an important part of their care.