Thursday, July 10, 2014

You don't understand, don't worry, your doctor doesn't either

With all the new medical advice out there, they always end with two statements:
  • More research is needed
  • Ask your doctor if this is right for you.
Well in this case, more research was done and it turns out doctors aren't as smart (or Gods) as we might think. First of all how are doctors supposed to keep up on all the latest research. Second all the numbers come out in percentages - which are generalizations - and not round numbers.

This new article is long but very interesting (and definitely worth the read) about some new research showing how doctors do not necessarily understand the benefits of screening tests, as used as their examples. If 100 women get mammograms, how many will show something? Of the ones that do, how many will test positive for cancer? How many will be false positives? How many lives will be potentially saved?

"There are three other questions Gigerenzer advises patients to ask doctors to ensure they get all the facts:
  • "What are the alternatives?"
  • "What's the benefit and what's the harm?"
  • "Please tell me this in terms of absolute numbers. If 100 take this medication and 100 people don't, what happens after five years?"
Once they get the answers it is up to them to make up their own mind about treatment, he says."

That should get you where you need to be to make a decision. If your doctor can't answer this or hesitates, maybe they should do some reading and get back to you or find a doctor who can answer the questions.

1 comment:

tccomments2013 said...

dear Caroline,

those last 3 questions - excellent advice, and I am going to write them down! your new site look is very attractive and fresh - love the flower photos! I hope this finds you feeling well, and happily looking toward the week-end.

much love,


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