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All change?

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7212.793 (Published 18 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:793
  1. Ailsa Harrison, antenatal teacher and patient supporter
  1. High Wycombe

    All change?

    “But why do doctors have different opinions about what is the best treatment? There are thousands of people going through this every year—why don't they know which works best?”

    I try to explain to a member of my antenatal class who has called me for reassurance, something about the nature of medicine, about how little research there is in some areas, and how contradictory the results can be. But it's not really what this patient wants. In a burst of honesty her doctor had the temerity to admit that variations in practice exist. Instead she wants a cut and dried answer because that is her expectation. Behind her are years of conditioning to believe that as medicine is a science it must produce hard facts and straightforward answers.

    To share power, patients need to acknowledge that they deserve it

    If only it were that easy we could just plug ourselves into a computer for a diagnosis and treatment printout. Clinical judgment would be redundant. But if patients …

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