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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

So drug companies know what medications doctors are prescribing, but it turns out that doctors do not always know enough about their patients. They may not know enough about the patients because they're not listening. Today's last word in business is chatty doctors. A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that many doctors waste patients' time and lose their focus by interjecting irrelevant information about themselves.

Researchers say physicians disclosed personal information in about one-third of office visits and 85 percent of those disclosures were not helpful to the patient. The doctors may be trying to put the patients at ease, but once doctors started yakking about themselves, they rarely return to the original topic, which is the patients' health.

Consider this sample conversation from the study. The doctor asks...

Unidentified Man #1: So, no partners recently?

Unidentified Man #2: I was dating for a while and that one just didn't work out.

Unidentified Man #1: So you're single now?

Unidentified Man #2: Yeah, it's alright.

Unidentified Man #1: Gets tough. I'm single as well. We're not at the right age to be dating, I guess, so...

INSKEEP: But wait a minute, wait a minute. Isn't this supposed to be about the patient? So the next time you sit down in the doctor's office, it may be in your best interest to say, don't tell me what's up, doc.

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