THURSDAY, Feb. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Many stroke patients can't identify their doctor, which may increase the likelihood that they won't understand their medication or care plan, researchers report.
The new study included 55 hospitalized stroke patients and 91 general neurology or neurosurgery (non-stroke) patients. Sixty percent of stroke patients were unable to identify their primary attending physician, compared with just over 38 percent of non-stroke patients.
Among patients who could not identify their doctors, nearly 70 percent of the stroke patients did not understand their medication or care plan, according to the researchers from Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y. This compared with 40 percent of the non-stroke patients.
"These findings tell us we need to be more vigilant about identifying ourselves as physicians and informing stroke patients about their medications and care plan," study co-author Dr. Jeffrey Katz said in a Northwell news release.
"Patients who do not know their medications well show an increased risk for subsequent strokes, and dissatisfaction with their care. This is, in essence, a patient satisfaction study telling us what we can do to increase patient satisfaction and compliance," he explained. Katz is chief of vascular neurology and director of the Stroke Center at North Shore University Hospital.
Gone are the days when one doctor would come to your hospital room, study co-author Dr. Paul Wright pointed out in the news release.
"Over the years we've started developing specialties and subspecialties, and now there are 10 or 15 physicians who show up. The key point is we as health care professionals have to inform the patient who's in charge of their care," said Wright, chairman of neurology at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
Clear communication with patients is a crucial skill for doctors, he added.
"Just because we do certain things every single day doesn't mean they're second nature to the patients or staff members around us," Wright explained. "Being more mindful of that will help patient satisfaction and medication compliance, which is what we want for all our patients."
The findings were scheduled for presentation Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Stroke Association in Los Angeles. Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Stroke Association has more on life after stroke.