Doctor who? Are patients making clinical decisions?

February 11, 2008

Doctors are adjusting their bedside manner as better informed patients make ever-increasing demands and expect to be listened to, and fully involved, in clinical decisions that directly affect their care.

In a study just published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Dr. J. Bohannon Mason of the Orthocarolina Hip and Knee Center in Charlotte, NC, USA, looks at the changes in society, the population and technology that are influencing the way patients view their orthopaedic surgeons. As patients gain knowledge, their attitude to medicine changes: They no longer show their doctors absolute and unquestionable respect.

Demographic change, education, affluence, availability of information via the Internet, patient mobility, direct-to-consumer marketing, patient age, patient activity demands, cost pressures and physician accountability are converging to present the practitioner with a patient who is more informed and has higher expectations than any prior generation of patients.

Today’s patients do not simply have a medical complaint, they desire a particular operation and sometimes even a particular implant. The doctor is no longer the sole source of medical information. Patients have enough snippets of information to stimulate a dialogue and clearly express their expectations for a particular outcome and technique to achieve that outcome. They are also demanding quicker recovery, return to higher-level sport activity and earlier discharge from the hospital.

“Patients have come to expect miracles in medicine as the norm, yet these miracles are not without inherent risk,” cautions Mason.

Providing true patient-centered care relies on doctors’ ability to supply patients with accurate, evidence-based information and to improve communication. However, patients are not necessarily motivated by evidence-based medicine. They are often willing to adopt the promises of direct-to- consumer marketing.

In Mason’s view, the doctor’s responsibility is “to maintain control of validated information sources and of the exchange of information with the patient. [Doctors] need to be interpreters and balancers of scientific information to help guide [their] patients through the maze of medical hyperbole. [They] need to discuss new treatments and technologies openly and honestly.”

And crucially, they must also understand that although patients’ demands are changing, the surgeon’s accountability and responsibility for their patient’s safety and care have not.

Source: Springer

Explore further: Identifying problems with national identifiers: Supposedly encrypted numbers can be easily decrypted

Related Stories

Faster resistance analysis for patients with blood poisoning

September 25, 2015

When treating cases of blood poisoning, doctors resort immediately to broad-spectrum antibiotics. The problem is that in many cases the bacteria are resistant to the medicine. Analyzing antibiotic resistance is a time-consuming ...

Deep-diving whales could hold answer for synthetic blood

September 25, 2015

The ultra-stable properties of the proteins that allow deep-diving whales to remain active while holding their breath for up to two hours could help Rice University biochemist John Olson and his colleagues finish a 20-year ...

Gel study uncovers unexpected dynamics

September 24, 2015

Research by scientists at the University of York has revealed important new information about the dynamics of bacterial gels which could ultimately suggest new ways of helping prevent or better control diseases such as cystic ...

Confronting issues of race in the medical community

September 23, 2015

Growing up in a segregated health care community in Baltimore during the 1920s, Henrietta Lacks experienced the disparities that were fundamentally a part of her environment. At the time, most hospitals would not admit black ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.