Sunday, August 14, 2005
The New York Times has a front page story on the new and confusing world of patient choices in medical care. With new multiple potentially life-saving techniques, the patient may be left to decide what course of treatment he or she would prefer. The article provides several examples of decisions left to patients and the dfficulty of making a decision, particularly when doctors do not agree. The article states,
. . . . Last summer, with the second joint of his left big toe painfully throbbing from gout, Carl Schneider, a law professor at the University of Michigan who had already consulted his internist and a rheumatologist, leaned wearily against a hospital wall as three other doctors argued over which regimen he should follow. One doctor handed him a 20-page Internet printout that cited gout treatment studies, none of them definitive.
"At 57, it's a little late to be starting medical school," Mr. Schneider remarked acidly. "But the burden still falls on me, having to pick among opinions."
The job of being a modern patient includes not only decision making, of course, but often coordinating doctors, medical records and procedures, as well as negotiating with insurance companies, who are often the ultimate arbiters over which treatment options will be covered.
The entire article is an interesting and thought-provoking read on how many decisions patients now make. The Times also ran companion piece concerning the importance of patient support groups that you may access here. [bm]