Thursday, June 18, 2009

New concept? Patient centered care

Recently there was an article in the New York Times on the latest trend in patient centered care. I don't consider this to be a new concept. When you visit a doctor, they tell you what you should do and the results if you don't. I feel strongly that its your body and the doctor is giving you a recommendation and it is your choice to follow it or not. This already occurs frequently. How many times have you been given a prescription and told to take it per the instructions - did you? Did you take it until it was all gone, with or without meals, regularly? Or did you say "I feel better, I don't need it any more". Did you get all the tests the doctor suggested? What about eat right, exercise more, quit smoking, drink less alcohol? Do you floss and brush as much as the dentist says? Are you following all those suggestions?

Through my oh-too-many doctor appointments, I have met many medical personnel and learned that there is a substantial percentage of patients who don't follow instructions, return for follow ups, and take prescribed medications. (Then there is a whole group of people who never go to the doctor because they don't think they are sick enough or something.) I have been told that I am a relatively good patient because I do these things. Does that make me a better person and better medical patient? No, I think I do these things because I make sure I understand why I am being given this advice and the ramifications of not doing them. Believe me, I ask my doctors lots of questions and make sure I understand things (personal rule number 847 - a diagnosis is not complete unless the patient can spell, pronounce, and define the ailment).

A doctor gives you advice. You are then burdened with the responsibility of making sure you understand it and what happens if you don't take it. If you get a cancer diagnosis and surgery and chemotherapy are prescribed, it is your choice to get them but if you don't, you should understand your potential outcome. I strongly believe that it is the patient's ultimate choice to make decisions on their care and if they choose to go an alternate route, they should feel free to provided they understand the ramifications.

Life is all about choices. Its your body and you can make them. Patient centered care should not be a new concept. Educated patients should be the way of the future.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Hi Caroline,

Just stumbled across your blog - and this latest post about patient-centric cancer care. You are so right about patients not taking advantage of the full spectrum of care available to them - but it goes both ways. A recent study that we conducted here at Ohio State found that only one in three breast cancer patients heard about their breast reconstruction options from a general surgeon. Knowledge and a thirst for it is definitely power.