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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The patient is the best historian

Medical education is a form of brainwashing, not too different than educating future lawyers.  Most higher education is not far removed, because it is the major way, just as in the days of the Guilds, that a trade or profession was continued.  Keeping the education process in a narrow perspective fosters the culture in that field, and perpetuates the lack of growth and change, new ideas, or new approaches.

One thing that used to be a Golden Rule in health care was the importance of listening to your patient.  Today, this is not always possible because of the tight control of the bottom line over health care practices by administrators and insurers, as well as the pharmaceutical companies. 

I listen to my clients and often hear them tell me of their frustration with doctors who look at a computer, not at them, and type while talking. Others just say that the doctor just doesn't listen.  I another case the person has told me that the doctor forces her beliefs against natural treatment and makes this person feel demeaned.  The complaints and horror stories fill a book.

This recent UPI article points to this concern, so perhaps you'll see some effort to begin listening to patients come around once again.

Physicians often misjudge patient beliefs

HERSHEY, Pa., July 28 (UPI) -- Doctors often guess wrong about their patients' health beliefs, U.S. researchers found.

Dr. Richard Street from Texas A&M University in College Station and Dr. Paul Haidet of Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey found patients' health beliefs differ from their physicians' perception of these beliefs, and suggest doctors pay more attention to what their patients have to say.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found physicians generally do not have a good understanding of patient's health beliefs, but their understanding is significantly better when patients more actively participate.

"If physicians had a better understanding of their patients' beliefs about health, they could address any misconceptions or differences of opinion they had with the patient regarding the nature, severity, and treatment of their illnesses as well as make treatment recommendations better suited to the patient's life circumstances," Street said in a statement. "Encouraging the patient to be more involved in the consultation by expressing their beliefs and concerns is one way physicians can gain this understanding."

Street, Haidet and colleagues analyzed 207 audio-recorded physician-patient consultations as well as surveys about the cause, treatment and other aspects of the patients health condition conducted by both physicians and patients after the consultation. Physicians were also asked about how they thought the patients responded.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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