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Why do we do it?

April 13th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s not unusual – I go home or manage to meet up with my family. I’ll usually be presented with a “present” in the form of a cut or bruise from my brother or sister. More recently I’ve had the joy of a rash. These are generally trivial and more of a joke than any serious test of what I’ve learned.

Move up a few generations and things are a bit different. Here I have statins, B-blockers and ACE inhibitors of all sizes. I get updated on any recent changes (whether I want to know or not) and spend a bit of time trying to work out what the trade name actually is. This is fine, I’m (sadly) quite interested in this. I stop myself from making any real comments though – save maybe trying to explain what the drug does. Anything beyond that 1) I tend not to know and 2) don’t want to treat my family anyway.

Unfortunately my restraint doesn’t seem to be shared by my peers. The most recent example of this was one of my colleagues explaining to a relative the findings of a new study. The relative was told they “probably don’t need to be on it” and that it “has these new problems”. More annoyingly, my friend was planning to send the article so that it could be taken to their relatives GP who “might not have seen it”.

I have no doubt that evidence based medicine isn’t practiced as well as it possible could be but this concerns me for different reasons. Firstly, treating family members is not exactly recommended, even by those fully qualified. More than that, however, is the poor GP who is going to be presented with a BMJ article that the patient was told to bring.

It’s confusing for the patient and annoying for the GP. I don’t like it.

This isn’t an isolated incident either. I’ve heard of younger students advising about post-stroke medication for example.

Perhaps we should be taught about where our limits should be as students? I can think of a few sessions that this could fit into.

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  1. April 13th, 2009 at 23:18 | #1

    I’m often tempted to run screaming from relatives who ask me about medical things. I’m not a doctor! I’m a quarter of the way through my degree! My knowledge base is based on what a sheep embryo looks like in the third week after conception and exactly how we produce concentrated urine and other such basically useless pieces of information! I am not going to start second-guessing your GP!

    And I am not personally responsible for C. difficile and if I had the power to fix the NHS, I would have done it by now…

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