Patients are unable to make informed decisions about their healthcare treatments because they are not provided all the information they need, according to researchers for a national study.
Preliminary results of the study were announced at the National Patient Safety Foundations 11th annual Patient Safety Congress in Nashville. Patients make medical decisions incredibly frequently, with 83% of people who made at least one decision, and 54% who made at least two medical decisions, in the past two years, said Floyd Fowler, senior research fellow for the Center for Survey Research at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The center worked with the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making and the University of Michigan to conduct the study.
Just because they had to make frequent decisions about their treatment options did not mean they knew all the risks involved, according to the results. Often, patients made decisions based primarily on their doctors recommendation, Fowler said.
Some 3,000 adults age 40 and older were asked about nine key medical decisions in the areas of surgery, cancer screening and prescription medicine. Doctors made recommendations between 75% and 85% of the time in those areas, and followed their suggestions with a list of the pros of undergoing that particular treatment, Fowler said. Patients were asked for input far less, and the negatives of a treatment were discussed infrequently. If patients are going to have a say in this, somebodys got to ask what they think, he said. -- by Jean DerGurahian