Posted in Having a Voice, In the Know, Partnerships

Doctor’s Bias Impacts Your Health

I never really thought that there could be differences in treatment based on the characteristics of my doctor.  My assumption and those of many people I speak with is that training gives doctors the tools to treat patients and that there are standards that doctors adhere to providing equal outcome opportunities for all patients. 

It should be no surprise that I was shocked when I read an article today on www.msn.com that reports on a study by the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University.  The study looked at 30,000 women 65 and older with breast cancer having breast conservation surgery between 1991-2002.  The study found that there was a difference in the patients given radiation treatment following the surgery greatly reducing the risk of recurrence.

Could it really be that my doctors bias on treatment is based personal characteristics?  This information puts creating a relationship with my doctor even more important.  Maybe I need to ask questions to flush out the doctor’s biases.  The study also looked at 4453 surgeons who operated on these women in the study.  The study concluded that characteristics such as gender of the surgeon, whether the medical professional was and MD or DO or whether the doctor was trained in the US could be factors in the difference between radiation treatment and no radiation.

This study although from the cancer community is not cancer related.  This study is medical training related.  This study asks us as pilgrims walking the journey of life-altering illness to become more inquisitive of our medical providers.  It’s not enough to know whether the doctor has any malpractice claims, now we’re questioning their judgment based on factors that I never would have considered to be part of the conversation.  What new questions will you ask of your medical providers?

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