Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 29, 2006

Biased Health Care Advice

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:39 pm

The Health Care Business Blog quotes MedPage Today:

Men trying to decide how to have their localized prostate cancer treated may get incomplete or biased advice from both physicians and patient-education materials, a review of the literature suggested.

For example, urologists nearly universally indicate that surgery is the optimal treatment strategy, and radiation oncologists similarly indicate that radiation therapy is optimal, said Scott D. Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center here, and colleagues.

This should not be a surpirse. If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

These doctors are not necessaily recommending their own treatment to feather their own nests; they are just recommending what they know. It is human nature to look at a problem and see how you can solve it, rather than how it is best solved. Plus, it’s natural caution not to recommend things with which one is less familiar.

The lesson is that patients have to take an active role in determining their own medical treatment. Your doctor is your partner in this, not your commanding officer. Before taking drastic treatment, ask the doctor to justify his/her recommendation, find out about other options and ask politely why they aren’t appropriate (maybe they are and the doctor just didn’t think of them; I’ve had this happen), and above all, use your brain.

It doesn’t hurt to have some basic knowlege of statistics, and to be able to read those inserts that come with your prescription drugs.

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