Any med student or doctor who's ever seen a patient knows that patients can talk a lot. As a physician, a necessary skill is learning to redirect patients and get them to actually answer your questions, rather than telling you about the time they went to Morganville for a new heel for their shoe with an onion tied to their belt (which was the style at the time). I see about twenty patients a day, so if I let them all tell their stories every day, I'd have to basically just live at the hospital.
In residency, there were a few residents who just didn't seem to get the hang of redirecting patients. Whenever they'd go into the examining room of a talkative patient, they'd inevitably need a "rescue page" or else we'd never see them again. Whatever else could be said about me, I have never ever required a rescue page. I am excellent at rudely interrupting patients and getting answers out of them.
As an intern, we got a lecture about how Interrupting Patients is Bad. About how doctors interrupt patients too damn much and we miss out on information. The lecturer said that there was some study where doctors were actually observed talking to patients, and the longest a patient EVER went on for without being interrupted, like the World's Record, was 90 seconds. So really, you shouldn't interrupt your patients because they're not going to talk longer than 90 seconds.
What is wrong with this advice?
Well, if you have multiple questions you need to ask the patient, allowing them to go on for about 2 minutes per question, sometimes without actually even answering the question you asked, takes for freaking ever. So patients must be redirected. That said, the 90 seconds thing ACTUALLY WORKS. This is when it is useful:
Say you are done seeing a patient. They have answered all your questions and you have done everything you can for them. Or it is the weekend, they're stable, and basically, they just want to ramble on for a while... except you have 50 other patients to round on and you're starting to panic that you won't be able to escape without being rude. What you do is: you let them talk. You just stand there, smile, and do not say a word. Do not prompt them in any way. Don't even say "uh huh." Just smile politely. You can probably nod, but it's better if you don't. After about 90 seconds or usually less, they WILL stop talking. And when they do, you bid them farewell and quickly get the hell out of there.
This has worked for me many times. I did it a few days ago with a woman who honestly seemed like she would never ever run out of steam talking about god knows what, but sure enough, she fizzled out after about a minute. Just try it.