Friday, July 06, 2007

Patient empowerment: can it go too far?

In the last 30 years or so we have moved from medical paternalism to medical consumerism. An article entitled Are You an Empowered Patient...or a Pain in the Neck? addresses some unintended consequences. (Via Kevin M.D.).

Among the questions asked are Do You Bring in Pages of Printouts from the Internet?

If so, you could be interfering with the effectiveness of your visit. One of two things may happen: Your doctor may spend most of your appointment time reading through your printouts, or your doctor may decide that he/she doesn't have time to even look at the printouts at all, and ignore them completely.

I would add that if Internet homework presented at the appointment is to be anything more than a distraction it needs to be evidence based. But evidence based patient participation, as I demonstrated before, is arduous and requires a certain degree of skill. How many patients can do it?