Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The problem with allowing patients to decide for themselves

I believe in patient autonomy and feel that patients should make decisions for themselves. This is particularly true for elective treatment like infertility where they have many options . Since it's a question of building their own family, I feel these decisions are best made by patients rather than doctors.

Many patients appreciate the fact that we empower them with information ; are respectful of their desires ; and are happy to work with them and treat them as partners.

However, some patients do not like our approach. They are much more used to having doctors tell them what to do and what not to do. This is why when we askthem to provide their inputs, they seem very confused and are not sure how to proceed. They always seem to need validation from the doctor - and reassurance that they're making the right decision. In fact, some of them come to the conclusion that I must be a bad doctor, because I'm not really sure what to do and need to ask them ! Because i refuse to tell them what their next step should be , they suspect that I am ignorant and poorly informed.

The would rather have a doctor who gives them instructions which they can follow blindly. They'd rather allow their doctor to make all the decisions - after all, isn't he the expert ?

I guess it takes all kinds to make the world - and every patient needs to find a doctor they're comfortable with !

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