Thursday, November 04, 2010
Doctors, patients and information
It's quite interesting to see the attitude some doctors still have towards educating their patients
I just met a friend who is now a senior gynecologist. He told he that he preferred not to provide his patients with information. " I just tell them what I think they need to know ! Otherwise, they ask too many questions and it takes me too much time to explain. It's much easier for me if I just go ahead and treat them - after all, I am the expert ! It's also better for my patients. With too much information, they get confused and do not know what to do ! It's best if I keep it simple - and this way, I can see more patients as well !"
Most doctors got away with this paternalistic attitude for many years - but this was many years ago, , when all the medical knowledge was locked up in medical books and journals which patients could not access or understand.
However, times have changed. Medical information is now freely available on the net - and a smart, determined patient can easily learn as much as he wants about his problem . The truth is that patients have always had and will always have questions about their medical treatment - it's just that some doctors are not empathetic enough to realise this. This is why they lose their patients to other doctors who take a proactive approach towards addressing their patient's queries !
If patients do not get answers from their doctor, they will find answers from somewhere else. And if another doctor provides these, they are quite likely to go to the other doctor.
When doctors do not answer their patients questions, they do both their patients and themselves a disservice. Patients are forced to search for information on their own, and they often find unreliable information from poor quality websites. This misinformation can actually make the doctor's life even harder because he then has to spend a lot of time helping the patient to get rid of their misconceptions.
This is why doctors need to prescribe information - and the best way of doing this is by creating your own website and dispensing information through this !