Posted by: AtlasMD

October 23, 2013

A Doctor Reminds Us that Patients Are in Control

We had to share this harrowing story of Dr. Annie Brewster, who is both a physician and patient. See, she suffers from MS, and in dealing with her condition, she’s gained amazing insight into what it’s like on the other side of the gurney. She explains:

“Being on the patient side has changed me as a doctor. Now, I see more clearly that no medical decision is simple. While my job is to make recommendations to patients based on my medical knowledge, there is no one answer.”

According to Dr. Brewster, what is ultimately “right” is based on a multitude of factors and we may not have the precise answer within our reach. Now she tells her patients when she suggests any treatment, “You are in charge.” Being as we were just reading about a healthcare future that’s been Walmart-ized and might have machines dictating our treatments, this seems especially relevant. What do you think happens if primary care physicians are to be replaced by software algorithms and nurses? Would patients be less stubborn? Would they be even less likely to listen to their own intuition?

Again, these are ambiguous, difficult issues to discern. But regardless, it’s humanizing to remember that in spite of all our education, training and experience, we are not the final call. Really, it’s up to the patient to trust us and follow a treatment plan that works for them. Our job is to take the time to make sure we’re offering the most sound advice within our own reason and skill set.