A Not So Surprising Reason MDs Spend Less Time with Patients

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine determined that interns at two large academic medical facilities spent just 12% of their time in direct patient care – that is examining and interacting with patients. This is an average of just 8 minutes a day spent with each patient each day. Where do they spend the majority of their time? Mostly on indirect patient care:

  • 40% of their time in front of computers doing routine “electronic” paperwork, writing orders, etc.
  • 15% in educational activities.
  • 9% in miscellaneous activities (wonder if that’s their smartphones).
  • 7% of their time walking around the facility.

Certified Legal Nurse Consultants have long known that MDs are spending less time with patients and more time with electronics – now we know that they’re learning this behavior “on the job” as interns. No wonder failure to diagnose is one of the leading causes of medical malpractice cases. How can physicians expect to learn anything about a patient if they spend more time on their computers than with their patients?

I’m Just Askin’

P.S. Comment and share who spends more time with patients in your facility – you or the doctors.

2 thoughts on “A Not So Surprising Reason MDs Spend Less Time with Patients

  1. I researched “distracted doctoring” this past week. There is a trend developing where OR and MD staff are making calls, online, texting etc… while doing surgery! One neurosurgeon had a headset on and made several calls to his family/friends while doing brain surgery. Yikes!

  2. This blog came at a good time. I am working a new case. The first MD who examined my client’s patient injuries had a total time shown of approximately 7 minutes. I noted the time she got to the ED and the time she was transferred out, which was 34 minutes. First of all, she was not treated nor stabilized. She had a neurological injury and could have died.
    The sad thing about technology is that it slows down the process of communication between the MD and nurse. Had the nurse taken the time to read what the MD documented, she probably could have compared her assessment with his and spoke up about how serious the injuries were and averted damages to the patient. And on top of everything else they did wrong, they also breached the EMTALA (antidumping) law.
    So, yes MD’s need to pay attention to their patient’s needs or else…

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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