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Want medical information? Ask the people who have it – the patients…

Posted Oct 18 2010 7:13am

Two headlines in Pulse magazine:-

Fewer antibiotics prescribed for RTIs, study finds


No antibiotic class stands out in treatment of LRTIs

Access both from the above link if you’re signed up to Pulse.

The thing is, I’ve been arguing both these points for years – antibiotic prescribing for COPD flare-ups or other lung infection (LRTI and RTI), has long been hopelessly inadequate, as I’ve mentioned here to the point of tedium. The second point is self-evident to anyone who suffers from frequent respiratory infections.

I buy Amoxil – for 7 years they’ve taken care of all but 3 or 4 respiratory infections. Prior to that my GP mainly prescribed new and expensive antibiotics, despite my complaints that side-effects were far worse and that I got on better with older drugs – like Amoxyl. So I just gave up and self-medicated. Now I can knock down all but the nastiest COPD flare-ups in 3-4 days, by treating them as soon as the first symptoms appear.

But why does it take research and studies, which cost money, to find this out? Has it never occurred to anybody – at all – to talk to the people at the sharp end, who have the knowledge; the patients?

True, many patients haven’t a clue, but there is, surely, a huge and untapped resource out here, and it’s being ignored.

Over on Wellsphere, for example (see sidebar), I’m a platinum-level COPD Patient Expert** (invited to join because of the quality of my COPD posts, here). I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m unique, there must ne a great many people with a similar, or greater, level of knowledge, in many areas of medicine, yet it remains an untapped resource.

**I can only verify that by posting these two pics, as the Platinum ranking only shows when I’m logged in, and the “PatExp” legend when I’m not – go figure.

An indication that well-informed patients are unwelcome came back in May, when I was barred from posting comments on Pulse, because it was unfair to the doctors. Which is bullshit. A year earlier, I’d had an email from the editor, addressing me as Doctor, asking for permission to publish my comments in the print edition, and could they have my practice details please? If the quality of my comments was so high that I was automatically presumed to be a doctor, and by the editor, who must surely communicate with doctors on a regular basis as part of his job, how could I possibly be unfair to doctors? I’m sure I know why, but modesty forbids!

I think it’s quite simple – the fact that patients are increasingly well-informed worries doctors, not least because they have to raise their game. But it really shouldn’t. Surely it is easier for a doctor to work with an intelligent and well-informed patient, rather than one who understands pretty much nothing? Of course, they’d have to put away their patronising, doctor-knows-best, attitude, which is long past its BBE date, and start treating patients as equals. And that needs to happen, because as things stand right now, a massive reservoir of detailed patient knowledge is simply being ignored.

Any doctors out there, particularly GPs, like to respond to that, pro or anti? Identity must be provided, and will be verified, but confidentiality can be assured if required – just telling me you’re a doctor won’t work. Ad hominem comment will be binned.

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