Patients who are rude to their doctor increase chance of misdiagnosis by 42 per cent

Francesca Washtell
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The study found patients who exhibited "difficult" behaviour were more likely to have their conditions misdiagnosed (Source: Getty)

If you worry about your health, one of the best investments you could make into your future could be quick, easy and free: be polite to your doctor.

The likelihood of a patient receiving a misdiagnosis for a complex condition rose by 42 per cent when the patient exhibited "difficult" behaviours such as being aggressive or questioning their doctor's competence, a new study has found.

The risk of a misdiagnosis fell to six per cent when diagnosing less complicated conditions.

"Disruptive behaviours displayed by patients seem to induce doctors to make diagnostic errors," the researchers concluded.

However, the researchers also found the confrontation with difficult patients did not cause the doctor to spend less time on their cases.

The Dutch scientists, writing in the British Medical Journal Quality and Safety, tested a group of 63 doctors in their final year of GP training by presenting them with "neutral" and "difficult" patients in a series of six written descriptions of patients with symptoms that indicated symptoms from pneumonia to inflammation of the pancreas caused by alcoholism.

Two versions of each description were produced, one of which described a "neutral" patient and another a "difficult" patient. Difficult behaviours illustrated by the patients included ignoring the doctor's advice, a patient who had low expectations of their doctor's support, aggression and questioning a doctor's competence.

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