Monday, June 20, 2005
Just Because the Doc Says It's So....It Ain't Necessarily So
The study involved 197 Swiss patients. Before surgery, doctors predicted "great improvement" for 79% of them and "moderate improvement" for 20% of them. But a year later, 39% had "no minimal clinically important difference" in back pain after surgery than before they went under the knife/scalpel/scope/laser.
In fact, the only group in which patients did notice improvement in mental/general health was among patients for whom back surgery was an iffy proposition going in (and doctors promised "great improvement" in them, too).
Quoth the study's authors: "surgeons tended to give overly optimistic predictions that were not correlated with patient outcome."
Remember that next time a doctor pats you on the arm and says, "TRUST ME. You'll be a whole lot better off when this is all over." Because it might not be the truth.