Saturday, September 01, 2012

Why masterly inactivity is often the best treatment option

When patients go to a doctor , they expect him to do something to help them get better. Because doctors have also been conditioned into believing that patients want something done , they will often advise intervention, even when they know in their heart of hearts that this may not really help the patient. There are many reasons they use to justify this .

Firstly, they treat because this is what the patient wants , and keeping the patient happy helps the patient to get better ! Secondly, a lot of these “treatments” will have a useful placebo effect, so why not take advantage of this ? Finally, if I don't offer treatment , the patient will be dissatisfied and will go to another doctor , and I don't want to lose my patients, so I better advise treatment.

However, most patients understand that good doctors will often advise them to do nothing , because they don't need anything to be done.

A famous medical aphorism says : The good surgeon is one who knows how to operate ; the better surgeon  is one who knows when to operate ; and the best surgeon is the one who knows when not to operate !
It is not always necessary to treat all minor aches and pains; and neither is it necessary to treat every minor abnormality picked up on a scan or lab result. Often just watchful waiting is more than enough.
Good doctors realize that patients are now getting smarter. Intelligent patient appreciate doctors who do only what is needed , so that they don't waste their money , or expose them to unnecessary risks of medical intervention.

If an intelligent patient finally finds an intelligent doctor , this can be an unbeatable combination, since both will be happy !

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