Managing patient expectations


Fam Pract Manag. 1999 May;6(5):13.

To the Editor:

In “Why I Fired My Family Doctor” (January 1999), one reason for the patient's dissatisfaction was that the doctor clearly did not manage patient expectations. The patient had multiple complaints and was frustrated because the physician did not set clear boundaries and goals for the office visit.

A physical should include the gathering of information, an exam, and a discussion of prevention and health maintenance issues. It is not the time for treating problems. If a patient has pressing health concerns, however, I offer to handle those problems first and postpone the complete physical until a subsequent visit. Usually, patients appreciate this compromise.

Physicians must ensure that patients have reasonable expectations for the office visit. If too many objectives are crammed into one visit, patients are dissatisfied and health maintenance goals are not achieved.


Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact fpmserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Jan-Feb 2020

Access the latest issue
of FPM journal

Read the Issue

FPM E-Newsletter

Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights."

Sign Up Now


Primary Care First: Practice Assessment Checklist

Is the PCF model right for your practice? Evaluate potential opportunities and risks for your practice. Use the PCF Practice Assessment Checklist to gauge your practice’s readiness to participate in PCF, including care delivery capabilities, data infrastructure, and potential financial impact.