Cooperating for better care.

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This customer is not always right

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— Photo by RCP Basheer

Kevin Page, M.D., discusses the pitfalls of letting patients participate too much in treatment decisions. Among his remarks:

“Doctors must, at certain critical times, ‘say no.’ Clearly part of the wisdom, the art of medical practice, is being able to decline a patient’s requests with skill and compassion. The approach should not include, ‘No! What a stupid idea!’ Rather, it requires a gentle systematic conversation about the realities of the situation and what can or cannot help. This sort of negotiation is central to good medical practice.

“However, despite best efforts, there will be moments when each practitioner must draw a hard line in the sand. Giving harmful or useless therapy, or intentionally denying comfort, undermines patient-physician communication. This threatens medical care. This is not just about being a steward of resources, but about building and maintaining a healing relationship.”

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