What do patients really want?

a doctor taking a patient’s blood pressure

We are, more than ever before, a society which goes to great lengths to take care of our bodies. We’re reading more food labels, taking time for the gym, doing yoga and meditation to “connect” with our inner selves…yet when it comes to our own medical treatment decisions, we are surprisingly out of touch.

The body blind spot When we are diagnosed with a medical condition, even a minor one, we are often so concerned with getting better that we develop a treatment blind spot, failing to consider the following: Is the proposed treatment my only option? Why has it been proposed? What are the advantages and disadvantages of all my treatment options? How will the side effects of this treatment affect my quality of life? What implications does my treatment have, beyond recovery? What is the evidence that my treatment has been effective in similar conditions to mine? If I chose to do nothing at all, how would my condition Read more

Living longer, but in better health

For centuries, the challenge facing human beings, and therefore medicine, has been to extend our life expectancy. Some studies carried out in recent decades remind us that the more years we live, the more the economic cost to healthcare systems increases.

On top of all this, the rate of diagnostic error has reached significant numbers in many advanced countries. We must keep in mind that these types of errors (still all too common) end up affecting, one way or another, not only the doctor-patient relationship, but also the level of spending of individual governments and administrations.

By way of an example, in the U.S., the rate of diagnostic error is currently, according to some published studies, between 15% and 28% of all cases. It is a situation, which particularly affects patients with multiple chronic conditions. The key question is how to reduce the number of diagnostic errors In view of this scenario, which obviously affects us all, we should ask ourselves what we can do to solve the problem from all angles: medical professionals, the government and institutions and, of course, from the side of the patients. In order to start to amend the problem, we, as patients, should Read more