Sunday, July 20, 2008

Story telling for doctors

Most doctors are very good at getting their patients to follow their advice. ( The major difference between good doctors and bad doctors lies not in their ability to convince their patients, but in the quality of the advice they give. Good doctors give advice which benefits their patients; while bad doctors give advice which benefits themselves).

Doctors have learned that one of the best ways of persuading patients is by telling them stories - and many do this by describing similar cases they have treated successfully. Often the stories are embellished to make them more dramatic ( " I had a young man who came to me with chest pain just like yours . I did an angio, found he had a major block in his coronary; stented it; and now he plays tennis daily ! If he had come even a few days late, he'd most probably be dead by now "). Others will namedrop, to show you how high-profile their patients are.

Be careful when you hear these stories - they may not apply to you - and anecdotal case studies are of little value in modern evidence based medicine. Stories can be fun to listen to - but they are not very reliable, so take them with a pinch of salt !

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