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Dr. Annelise Swigert, in the media regarding patient communication

Dr. Annelise Swigert comments on the importance of really listening to patients in a recently published article regarding patient communication in the Star Tribune.

“The study is a reminder that doctors must find ways to listen to patients, said Dr. Annelise Swigert, an Edina obstetrician, who said she typically starts and ends each appointment by asking her patients if they have any questions. Nervous patients often wait until she is halfway out the door to ask what is really on their minds, she said.

“I really do get those ‘door-handle’ questions,” Swigert said. “I go back in the room and sit down because those often are the most important questions for patients.”

Medical schools have already been responding to the communication issue by increasing training on listening to patients, Swigert said, and clinics have developed alternatives such as group prenatal care appointments to help patients ask questions and hear others’ questions.

“ ‘Can I color my hair?’ ‘What are safe foods to eat?’ ” Swigert said are the sorts of questions that can pop up. “It’s interesting because one of our patients might ask a question that another hadn’t thought of.”

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