Top 5 Ways to Ensure Positive Bedside Manner

By: Dinethra Menon - MedicalSearch Writer
04 May, 2015

Your bedside manner can provide your patients with a positive healthcare experience – regardless whether you're delivering difficult clinical outcomes, trying to calm nervous patients or obtain vital clinical information.

A good bedside manner is fundamental to the doctor-patient relationship. It can help improve patient satisfaction and medical recovery.

Bedside manner can include verbal and non-verbal communication, physical contact during examination and even the manner you first greet your patients.

While it may appear to come naturally to some, we have uncovered five secrets to success. They can help you in even the most delicate patient consultations, and guide the clinical care you provide your patients.

Focused attention

Unsurprisingly, really listening and keeping your focus on your patients can help them feel that they're being heard. With the evolution of technology in medicine, it is even more important to engage in face-to-face communication with patients while accessing electronic patient records.

Failing to listen to your patients can lead to clinical decisions based on inaccurate information that changes your diagnosis with potentially harmful consequences. Consider distraction-free patient consultations, eye contact, saying your patient's name and even repeating what you have heard to check you can establish their needs.

Mind your language

No, we are not talking about swear words. Using the right words that aren't alarmist or negative can help patients feel confident in their prognosis and care. Language skills can also include asking open-ended questions while listening carefully to patients' answers.

Evidence has found the simple practice of introducing yourself to new patients before sitting down and explaining your role in patient care, actually happens rather infrequently and has an influence on patient encounters.


Even the most confident among us will admit exposing your body or discussing intimate details of problems to a complete stranger can be embarrassing. Understanding that patient confidence and trust is crucial to the doctor-patient relationship, can help patients feel comfortable to discuss personal health problems.

Consider providing a safe and private environment by offering space for patients to undress or speaking quietly when discussing sensitive information. Be observant and make allowances for patient sensitivities.

Body language

Non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal and a vital part of your bedside manner. Defensive poses, such as crossing your arms or fiddling can undermine your patient's confidence in your professionalism.

The simple act of sitting down and facing your patients on their height level can make a huge difference.

Physical contact

You may be surprised to learn patients expect to have physical contact when they visit their doctor, so don't be afraid to undertake appropriate physical examination for a thorough patient consult. Not only can it help you make a sound assessment, evidence published in The Lancet has also found human touch can create a bond between doctors and patients.