Informed Choices: A Critical Responsibility for Health Care Consumers

Wendy Lynch

First posted 6/07/11 on the Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum

Did you know that doctors make different treatment choices for themselves than they recommend to their patients? A recent study found that doctors are more likely to take on the risk of death to avoid serious complications than they recommend to patients. (1)

Here’s an example question from the study: To treat or not to treat Avian flu? Two-thirds of doctors said they would rather take a 10 percent chance of dying of Avian Flu than a 6 percent chance of death and 4 percent chance of paralysis from the treatment. Yet, more than half would recommend the treatment for their patients. Knowing what they know, understanding what they might face, considering whether or not they might get sued, doctors make different choices for patients than for themselves.

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