Views & Reviews From the Frontline

What happened to the doctor-patient relationship?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 25 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4349
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

An old maxim of general practice says that doctors get the patients they deserve, because patients actively seek out like-minded doctors who share their own health beliefs. The health-anxious seek health-anxious doctors; both value so called thoroughness, and referral, and refuse to accept any uncertainty. Likewise, some doctors and patients are bound together by a degree of fatalism. Both are happy to accept risk; happy not to treat, refer, or investigate. What passes as denial to some seems like only common sense to others. Once upon a time doctors understood that …

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