Health Professionals Ignore their own Advice
Imagine you have contracted a virus that has two treatment options; the first has an extremely high success rate with many bad side effects, while the other has a lower success rate with no side effects. Which would you choose?
While most of us would expect the doctor to recommend the treatment with the higher success rate; this is not the option that the majority of doctors would choose for themselves. This was found through a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
This study revealed that an overwhelming majority of Physicians do not follow the advice that they give their patients when it comes to treatment of an illness. Physicians who were observed during the study were more likely to choose a treatment with a higher risk for death, rather than to suffer from long-term side effects.
The study that was conducted surveyed 242 physicians. These physicians were presented with two hypothetical scenarios. In the first they had been diagnosed with cancer. There are two treatment options available: the first having an 84% success rate for a complete cure, with 4% suffering complications such as chronic diarrhea and infections; in the second only 80% were cured but with no complications. The results showed that more doctors would recommend the first option for patients. However many less chose this option for themselves.
In a second study of 700 doctors, researchers found that 67% would refuse a potentially lifesaving treatment for the avian flu due to its terrible side effects, while only 49% would recommend this same action for patients.
It certainly raises some concern about what fuels the decisions being made. Are doctors choosing the treatments with higher success rates because they are overall a better choice for the patients, or because advising a more risky treatment might be grounds for a law suit? It would seem that what the doctors choose for themselves would be the same as what they would recommend for patients. However, if that advice puts the doctor at risk for financial loss maybe they are choosing to protect themselves first?
There is also the financial influence in terms of potential profit. If a physician has a financial investment in a certain type of treatment and can make a profit, wouldn’t he be more likely to recommend that treatment as opposed to a treatment that another physician offers? What if the patient’s insurance won’t cover a treatment? It makes you wonder what the real motivation is for a doctor’s decisions.