Patient Empowerment – Definitely not a Good Thing

The Sunday NY Times has a long article on the travails faced by patients in the US, in this modern world.
The article is a must-read for all patients and doctors. It traces the history of the current state of affairs, relating it to the movement for access to information that the baby-boomers demanded in all aspects of their lives, including medicine. As the unquestioning role of the doctor diminished and the patients started feeling empowered in making their own decisions, as the amount of ligitation increased along with the subsequent rise of defensive medicine, it led to a situation where the doctors stopped taking decisions for the patients, started putting choices in front of the patients and asked them to make the call.


  • Ravi Ramakantan wrote:

    Even in Bombay, even amongst the “less educated”, there is a feeling that doctors have become more mercenary and not totally trustworthy. Patients are now wellaware of the “cut” system and many “implicitly” distrust doctors. They still go to them, because they have no other alternative. Because this trust is lost, patients demand to know more and more of the whys and wherefores and hence this situation. I feel we have gone beyond a point of no return as far as the “confidence crisis” in doctors is concerened and it is only a question of time before we have a US like situation here – something we can ill afford.

  • I have gotten into trouble because of DOctors both in India and the US, good doctors but greed got the better of them. I always rely on my family which has 4 doctors and I do get better treatment when the doctors realize that I am well informed. I am not saying that the patients should make all the decisions, but during this information age , I refuse to be taken for a ride because of ignorance.The doctors are already fabulously wealthy why do they still want to make money by putting patients in harm’s way?

  • Its a strange argument that people who are making conscious choices in everything are unable to make a conscious choice when it comes to their most valuable possession. Patients are well aware of the possible downsides of bad choices in this regard and will go through their choices withe adequate care through whatever mechanism if they feel so inclined. If they feel real life experiences from friends and relatives are valuable – the more the better – so be it. Where’s the beef?
    Its rather galling to see doctors appoint or is it annoint themselves to a higher moral plane where different laws apply. It is – or certainly should be – a contractual relationship. You cure me I pay you. If you screw up I will sue you.
    I trust our pediatrician almost implicitly – We know the practice for 10 years and they have earned our trust. But in today’s mobile world that is likely to be more the exception than the rule. Where do people live in one place so long that such a trust will develop?
    In addition I do not buy this premise of the GP knowing better than you on medical matters all the time – It depends on the GP , the ailment, the amount of reading you the patient may have done on the ailment, just too many things to make it impossible for such an axiom to work.
    As far as market forces keeping the GP honest give me a break – it could be the relationship between the doc and the patient over years or simply the value system of the GP that compels him or her to do the best but market forces ? Come on!! Far too many patients and far too few doctors for that!

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