How Trustworthy Is Your Doctor?

Most patients believe their doctors to be trustworthy. Roughly 79 percent of Americans trust their doctors, according to a 2010 telephone survey, while only 8 percent indicated that they did not trust their doctors. A recent survey of physicians suggests that that trust might be misplaced. One-third of the doctors who responded indicated that they would not necessarily inform a patient that he or she was the victim of a serious medical error. Roughly 20 percent did not completely agree that doctors should not tell patient something that was untrue. While some of those cases may involve white lies meant to comfort patients, others are undoubtedly cases where a doctor is covering up a mistake to avoid a malpractice lawsuit.

The relationship between pharmaceutical companies, medical device makers and doctors is an area of concern for many patient advocacy groups. If a doctor receives a financial benefit from prescribing a drug or recommending a particular medical device, can such a diagnosis be trusted? Is the doctor prescribing the best medication for you, or the best medication for them? The study cast doubt on the impartiality of doctors as 40 percent believed in hiding their financial relationships with these companies from their patients.

Medical errors are startlingly common in this country. One study found that 18 percent of patients treated at hospitals were actually harmed by the medical care they received. Other estimates have placed the number of deaths attributed to improper medical care at roughly 450,000. Medical errors are on the rise at the same time that medical malpractice lawsuits are decreasing and states are passing laws making it harder for an injured patient to file suit. Given that situation, it is alarming that so many doctors apparently have no problems lying to their patients.

Source: Food Consumer, “How Honest Is Your Doctor?,” by Dr. Mercola, 12 March 2012