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The President is Wrong About Second Opinions

The New York Times interviews President Obama about health care:

I’m a pretty well-educated layperson when it comes to medical care; I know how to ask good questions of my doctor.  But ultimately he is the guy with the medical degree.  So, if he tells me, You know what, you’ve got such-and-such, I don’t go around arguing with him or go online to see if I can find a better opinion than his.

It’s shockingly bad advice.

Numerous studies show that patients get the wrong diagnosis as much as 20% of the time, and get the wrong treatment half of the time.  Thirty-five percent of doctors and 42% of patients report errors in their own care or that of a family member.  Studies show that most errors happen because of a failure to analyze the patient’s problem correctly.  Experts, like Dr. Jerome Groopman from Harvard, say that doctors, strapped for time and dealing with complicated problems, easily fall prey to cognitive pitfalls that create poor quality.

Ask questions, be skeptical, disrupt your doctor’s thought process.  Make sure the decisions about your care are right.

Above all, remember it is you, the patient, that are in charge, not the “guy with the medical degree.”

(h/t @epatientDave via twitter)

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*


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