God, Hope & Helping Others
Study: Following your doctor's orders could endanger your health
Just because your doctor might seem to have all the right answers and always pay close attention to your medical testing and diagnostic needs does not necessarily mean that you are in good hands health-wise. A new study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine reveals that patients who report high levels of satisfaction with the services and care provided by their doctors are actually more likely to die than patients who report low levels of satisfaction.
The idea is that individuals have all sorts of varying expectations about medical care depending on their health philosophies and beliefs. Some patients who receive antibiotics from their doctors every time they go in with cold or flu symptoms, for instance, will report high levels of satisfaction because their doctors did something, while doctors who refuse medication because of its uselessness in this same situation could be perceived by some patients as providing a low level of care.
Patient satisfaction versus proper patient care are two completely different things that, based on the study's findings, appear to have an inverse relationship. Based on an assessment of data from the national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), patients who report the highest level of satisfaction with their doctors are 26 percent more likely to die overall compared to those who report the lowest levels of satisfaction.
Oddly enough, when patients with the poorest overall health are excluded from the statistics, the death rate percentage jumps to 44 percent. Even after adjusting the data to account for those most likely to throw off the numbers, satisfied patients are significantly more likely to die than non-satisfied patients, presumably because of over-testing, false diagnoses, drug poisoning, and other potentially harmful factors that instill false confidence in many patients that their health is being properly handled.
According to Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism, citing research by Maggie Mahar in her book Money Driven Medicine, patients typically prefer that their doctors do more, rather than less, even when doing less actually benefits them. Getting too many mammograms, for instance, which makes many women feel empowered against breast cancer, has actually been shown to cause it
The same is true for pharmaceutical drugs, which are a go-to for many doctors whenever their patients report even the slightest pains or discomforts. Many patients report higher satisfaction from doctors who simply dispense them pills, as opposed to doctors that tell them to get more exercise and eat better. And this, of course, illustrates the problem with patient satisfaction surveys, and points to why "satisfied" patients end up dying more often than their "unsatisfied" counterparts.