Have you ever asked your doctors what they would do when you were faced with your own medical decision? I have, and I quickly found out that the answer was not necessarily helpful for me. Now a study confirms that physicians may choose riskier treatment for themselves than they’d recommend for their patients.
The study asked more than 700 doctors to choose between two treatment options for cancer and the flu — one with a higher risk of death, the other with a higher risk of serious, lasting complications.
Both times, the doctors chose the deadlier option for themselves more often than they chose it for their patients.
That’s likely because doctors are taught to do no harm, and death would be the ultimate harm.
The study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and is accompanied by an editorial which says that it comes down to values. Doctors should know what their patients value most before giving advice, and patients should ask doctors the reasons behind their answers.