I don’t watch much TV but commercials these days frustrate me. They try to encourage people to walk into their doctor’s office saying they need a certain pill for something they are suffering from. Instead of letting a doctor decide, it is now legal for patients to decide their own diagnosis and demand a specific brand to try and take.
Don’t get me wrong, I think informed patients are important. I think it is great when patients ask provocative questions about their diagnoses or the processes that are going on in their body. I think it’s great to get second opinions, and ask why a test is needed, and how affective treatment options are. This is important for everything from a common cold to cancer care. For so long, doctors were looked at as having all the answers. We now live in an age of a lot of consumer information and choice, even within healthcare.
Yet we have crossed the bridge into self-diagnosis. The television can now tell you how you are felling, what drug you need, and the possible side effects. I am all for patients advocating for their health, yet advertising a disease and treatment does not seem like medicine that is in the best interest of patients.
I tell patients to avoid Dr Google as much as possible. I want them to be informed, but there is a lot of misinformation about health on the internet. Talk to your doctor; get a second opinion; discuss the risks and benefits. But please don’t diagnose via a television commercial. Drugs have a time and a place, yet it should be
a choice between a doctor and a patient, not one between a patient and their television screen.
How do you stay an informed patient?