Why Defer to Guidelines Instead of Empowering Patients?

My residency attending from way back when, Peter Elias, drew my attention to a good post on “the Healthcare Blog” (which also sometimes features my work). I had missed this one. It states eloquently how irrelevant guidelines can be for individual patients’ treatment choices:

“The goal of medical care is not to treat the patient but to foster patient empowerment; it is the informed patient who first chooses between treatment options.“

“Why should treating physicians defer to guideline committees at all, we asked? For decades medical students have been taught to read and understand information from published papers.
We are all trained in critical appraisal and can keep up with the clinically meaningful literature, the literature that is relevant and accurate enough to present to patients. Just because there are nearly 20,000 biomedical journals does not mean that any, let alone all are replete with meaningful information. We can discern the valuable from the not valuable; why do we need others to tell us?”


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