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Patient power?

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 10 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1042

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Frank Arnold, clinical assistant (
  1. Reading

    Inpatients in seven NHS hospitals can now use the internet from bedside terminals, according to recent newspaper reports. The facility will become available to many more. What will they get from it? I remember what I wanted when I was in hospital.

    Searching the internet helped me regain some sense of control in a frightening situation

    In 2000 I was given a diagnosis of cancer of the sigmoid colon. I had a palpable abdominal mass, and a barium meal and scan showed a locally advanced, irregular, stenotic lesion, with enlarged mesenteric nodes. No one had doubts about the pathology, but biopsy proved impossible, despite two expert attempts. As I am the father of a youngest child aged 8 years, I searched from home for current estimates of survival and outcomes of adjuvant chemotherapy.

    Shortly before the operation a house officer presented me with the consent form. It listed potential complications, including “urinary and faecal incontinence, impotence.” (The reminder was not very welcome.) It also …

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