Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who’s Afraid of the Empowered Patient?

Who’s Afraid of the Empowered Patient?

Delia Chiaramonte, MD, Baltimore, Maryland

JAMA. 2008;300(12):1393-1394.

From today's JAMA:

"...Yet patients can be stingy too—stingy with their respect and their gratitude. For all our hard-earned knowledge and personal sacrifice, don't we deserve a little reverence? Of course we do. However,whether we deserve it or not is irrelevant because times have changed. Patients are no longer passive and adoring, and our relationship is no longer hierarchical and paternalistic. It is when we see this change as a demotion, rather than as an evolution, that our hackles get raised.

Rather than being impressed by their patients' empowerment or inspired by their quest for wellness, some physicians are suspicious and occasionally blatantly hostile toward patients who demand an active role in their health care. We physicians enjoy our kingdoms and we don't take kindly to challengers. Yet the occasional physician who embraces her patient's empowerment often discovers a gem—a patient who is engaged, adherent, and motivated to get well."

My favourite part:

"A truly empowered patient is the ideal patient. Empowered patients will challenge us, yes, but they will also take their medicine and go for their tests. They will ask when they don't understand our instructions rather than simply ignoring them. And, most important, they will be more likely to get well, which will make us feel successful....

...Is there a solution? Can physicians and patients get back on the same team? I think we can."

Marina: patients and doctors should be on the same team - not adversaries!

Your thoughts?

Books on Doctors as Patients and a few on the Doctor-Patient Relationship