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Doctors Offer Patients Too Little Medical Information

A new study reported by Scripps News highlights a troubling problem in the medical community: the inadequate information given by doctors to their patients.

It is well accepted that all patients have the right to understand the medical options in front of them before making a decision about the care that they would like to pursue. It is equally established that all medical professionals must receive informed consent from patients before proceeding on any course of treatment. To receive that consent, patients must be made aware of the benefits and risks associated with different procedures. Doctors must ensure that they explain this in plain language; failure to do so is a possible case of medical malpractice.

However, a new study out of the University of Michigan indicates that doctors often fail to adequately explain the cons of any course of action, while overemphasizing the possible benefits. The research used data from the past two years involving doctor explanations of a broad range of medical issues like breast cancer screenings, hypertension, high cholesterol, joint replacement, back pain, and many other ailments.

Overall, doctors were found to be much more likely to explain the benefits instead of the possible negatives of treatments. Only 20% of breast cancer screening patients, for example, heard anything about possible problems like false positives. The vast majority of patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs had not been warned of the common side effects like headache, nausea, and digestive tract problems.

Dr. Michael Barry, a Harvard Medical School professor explains, “The study clearly demonstrates that people routinely make poorly informed medical decisions.”

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti firmly believe that patients deserve a balanced explanation of the treatment options in front of them. It is only in that way that they can make an informed decision about what procedures they would like to pursue. If you believe that a doctor has failed in this regard leading to harm, be sure to contact a medical malpractice lawyer.