Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Special offer!

One of the buzzwords we keep hearing in the NHS these days is “choice”. The concept of patient choice is frequently cited, particularly by non clinicians, without there being any apparent thought about what that actually means.

If you take your car to a mechanic, and he diagnoses a problem, I don’t think many of us would consider it appropriate to tell the mechanic how to fix the problem. So why is this considered a good idea in medicine. The older generation of patients tend to have no truck with this idea and many of them seem not even to want too much information about their condition. This is the age group who are most likely to be taking medication prescribed by their doctor, without actually knowing, or even caring what it’s for. They simply trust their doctor to act in their (the patient’s), best interests.
Patient choice

The younger generations however are more likely to want information and choice, but can any amount of information given to a lay person really give them the basis to make a truly logical decision. I’m not advocating that patients be treated without informed consent, just that a little professional advice is often appropriate.

This is especially important when your patient gets all his medical information from the Daily Mail, or some similarly informative rag. And when you throw in the whims of fashion the extremes of “patient choice” can lead to a demand for some very dubious treatments.


  1. single femal doc10 July 2012 at 13:38

    Didn't get the bit about a man who has undergone full SRS. Is that a man who started as a phenotypical woman or a woman who started life as a penotype male? If the latter (as implied by the article) then said "man" is now a woman and arguably always has been.

    SFD (still unable to log onto Google).

  2. I quite often take my car to the garage and tell the mechanic what's wrong and how to fix it -years of maintaining my own car as an impoverished student and reading all the manuals I could find. I've got enough money now to pay a mechanic - and not enough time to do it myself. Was your analogy good or bad?

    I KNOW that I know more about my medical condition than my GP - when I got a blood test back saying I had an alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency he said he didn't know what it was or what to do. Left it to me to have the nous to contact the centre in Birmingham -find out I needed my kids tested yada yada...

    A little bit of advice? I had no

    1. It is quite doubtful that a doctor could ignore what α1-antitrypsin is. If yours truly ignores that much, please run away asap as you prolly got the worst GP in the UK.

    2. I have -think he was the cleaner and stole the GP's ID