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The Impact of Stonewalling Patients: Communication Breakdown in Healthcare

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful patient-physician relationship, fostering trust, understanding, and better healthcare outcomes. However, when physicians stonewall patients, refusing to engage in open and empathetic conversations, the consequences can be detrimental to both the patient’s well-being and the overall healthcare system.

  1. Erosion of Trust: Trust is a fundamental component of any patient-physician relationship. When physicians stonewall patients, the patient’s trust in their healthcare provider begins to erode. Stonewalling creates a perception of indifference or disinterest, leaving patients feeling dismissed, undervalued, or unheard. As trust diminishes, patients may become hesitant to share critical health information, seek follow-up care, or adhere to treatment plans, ultimately compromising their overall health outcomes.
  2. Adverse Psychological Impact: Stonewalling can have significant psychological effects on patients. Feeling ignored or invalidated by their physician may lead to increased anxiety, frustration, and feelings of helplessness. Patients may be less likely to discuss their concerns openly, leading to a missed opportunity for timely diagnosis and appropriate intervention. In some cases, this emotional distress could exacerbate existing health conditions or even lead to the development of new ones.
  3. Hindered Diagnostic Process: Effective communication is key to accurate diagnosis. When physicians stonewall patients, they might miss vital cues or symptoms that could provide essential information for diagnosis. Patients who feel unable to express their concerns openly may downplay symptoms or withhold important details, making it more challenging for physicians to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. This delay in diagnosis can lead to prolonged suffering for the patient and may even result in worsened medical conditions.
  4. Reduced Patient Compliance: Stonewalling can negatively impact patient compliance with treatment plans and medical advice. When patients do not feel heard or respected, they are less likely to adhere to prescribed treatments, medications, or lifestyle changes. Consequently, this lack of compliance can lead to treatment inefficacy and a cycle of worsening health conditions, resulting in increased healthcare costs and potential hospitalizations.
  5. Strained Patient-Physician Relationship: Stonewalling damages the patient-physician relationship, which is essential for fostering open dialogue and effective collaboration in healthcare decisions. A strained relationship can hinder the flow of information between patients and physicians, preventing a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s medical history, concerns, and preferences. A communication breakdown can create a hostile environment, making it challenging for physicians to provide patient-centered care tailored to individual needs.


The impact of stonewalling patients extends far beyond simple miscommunication. It undermines the foundation of trust and compassion necessary for effective healthcare delivery. Physicians must recognize the significance of open and empathetic communication and actively work to create an environment where patients feel comfortable expressing their concerns without fear of judgment or dismissal.

By promoting transparency, active listening, and empathy, healthcare providers can strengthen the patient-physician relationship and, in turn, enhance patient outcomes and overall healthcare quality. Emphasizing effective communication in medical training and continuing education will play a crucial role in ensuring that stonewalling becomes a relic of the past, replaced by a more compassionate and patient-centered approach to healthcare.

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My own experience of trying to update my symptoms with the MS & Neurology Team at the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff is abysmal. The Multiple Sclerosis department no longer has a telephone number, thus I emailed my consultant Professor N. Robertson, and have had no reply. I then tried to contact his secretary and the call went straight to voicemail stating she was out of the office. She seems to be always out of the office (do these people do any work). I then Last week after I had my blood tests done attempted to locate an MS nurse and was told there are no MS nurses at the hospital, even though they treat MS patients, which I find very odd. What is wrong, with there being no one around to support MS patients?

If the neurologist comes back to me and says he was too busy or was out of office at least have the decency to have an autoresponder message or common courtesy and reply with a one-liner stating you will get back in touch shortly. Do not stonewall a person as it can affect their mental health. The Impact Of Stonewalling – CYMRU MARKETING JOURNAL

I have more than one bone to pick with this department since receiving a letter stating I was to have a phone consultation in which I rescheduled my day only to find out that the letter was sent out in error and there was no planned consultation. What I believe happened was that initially it was planned and at the last minute the consultant could not make the appointment.

I am fed up with having to chase the hospital for my blood forms and try and speak with someone about my health.

To think I have concerns about my health and have zero support is unacceptable and it lacks duty of care by an organization that is falling apart.

I invite anyone reading this that has had similar issues with the NHS, to voice their opinions by commenting below. This does not have to be MS related it could be about any illness. The more people that complain the quicker something that can be done to shake up the organization which is poorly managed. Government officials do read the article on this site so it will be interesting to read other people’s experiences. Bungling Welsh hospitals dodge complaints and issue payouts like £750 to a man they didn’t tell he had Covid – Wales Online


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