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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Whether in Medicine or Estate Planning, Empathy Matters

POSTED ON: March 13, 2011

I recently read this short yet interesting article in Time Magazine that I think encapsulates my thinking on how a good estate planning and elder law practice should be run. While the article is specifically about medical doctors, the gist of the article is that when you treat people with dignity, respect and empathy you can achieve better results.

The article states that, “doctors who are more empathetic actually have healthier patients, according to a new study published in the journal Academic Medicine.

Researchers led by Mohammadreza Hojat of Jefferson Medical College followed 891 patients with diabetes treated by 29 doctors for three years. The doctors were scored for empathy based on a measure that looked primarily at how much they understood their patient’s perspective and how much that point of view fueled their desire to help.

The patients of the doctors who scored highest in this type of empathy were 16% more likely to have good control over their blood sugar and 15% more likely to have better cholesterol levels than patients of physicians with the lowest empathy scores. Prior research has found that patients of highly empathetic doctors are more likely to follow their treatment plans, which could account for these differences.”

While I hope this helps inform your choice of medical professionals in the future, these same qualities should be sought when dealing with legal professionals. I treat every client, not as a number but as an individual with a family, life story and current concerns that they need addressed. Estate planning and elder law, whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere, often involves highly personal and sometimes emotional decisions. Taking care of your loved ones is an important goal of these disciplines and an effective estate planning lawyer should be concerned with your ‘big picture’ and not simply the documents at hand.