According to a new study that surveyed two groups of primary care physicians in the United States, doctors often choose a different treatment option for themselves than what they would recommend to their patients when a choice of treatments is available.
The study provided two different treatment scenarios to the surveyed doctors that had similar cure rates but one had a higher risk of death but fewer side effects and the other had a lower risk of death but greater risk of long-term side effects. The doctors were more likely to choose the treatment with a lower risk of death but greater side effects for themselves, but when advising their patients, the doctors were more likely to recommend the treatment with a higher risk of death but lower risk of side effects.
In one scenario involving a hypothetical diagnosis of colon cancer and deciding between two possible surgeries that had similar cure rates, 37.8% of the 242 doctors surveyed chose the surgery with a greater risk of death for themselves but only 24.5 % of those doctors believed that their patients would choose the same treatment option.
In another hypothetical scenario involving contracting a serious new form of avian flu with a 10% death rate with a choice between a treatment that would reduce adverse events by 50% but had a 1% risk of death and a 4% risk of permanent paralysis due to the treatment and not having the treatment that meant that 30% of the patients would need to be hospitalized for an average of one week, 62.9% of a larger group of surveyed doctors would personally suffer with the flu without having the treatment but only 48.5% of the same group of doctors would recommend against the treatment for their patients.
Since it appears from this study that doctors may make different treatment decisions for themselves when compared to the treatment decisions that they make for their patients, what is the significance of this dilemma? Well, the doctors know their own values and how they analyze the risks and benefits to themselves when making treatment decisions that affect their own lives but maybe they do not know enough about their patients’ values and how their patients weigh the risks and benefits of certain treatments when helping them make treatment decisions. There is a fine line between a doctor providing treatment advice and a doctor making a treatment decision. This might be an area where a second (or third) opinion from another trusted doctor can help make sure the proper medical treatment options for you are fully explored, analyzed, and decided upon based on what is best for you.
If you have been injured as a result of the bad-decisions of your doctor, you should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to determine if you have a claim for medical malpractice. We invite you to visit our website that can connect you to medical malpractice lawyers in your area to obtain the answers to your medical malpractice questions. You may also call us toll free at 800-295-3959.