Talking with my wife last night, we got on the topic of doctors and the healthcare system.  Of course in our house, that is NOT uncommon, but this time it was different.  We were talking about how the medical community sometimes appears to play the "guessing game" when it comes to patient care.  More specifically, how it relates to friends and family with medical issues.

Patients do NOT want to hear that doctors are sometimes uncertain about their condition or treatment options.  But this is the TRUTH...there are times when a doctor uses their training as well as their gut feelings to make clinical decisions.  Unfortunately, we (doctors) only have so much research and clinical information to support certain treatments.

At some point, there is the "Well, let's try this and see what happens." mentality.   I understand that for patients, that sounds awful.  That sounds like you are a test dummy...you're NOT.  Let me ASSURE you that your healthcare is not a complete guessing game, there is clinical reasoning and sound research to support many of the decisions being made in hospitals and clinics all over the country.  However, that is why we refer to the PRACTICE of medicine and ask questions like "How long have you been in PRACTICE?" and "What is your PRACTICE speciality?".

As a society, we have this unfortunate preconception that clinicians ALWAYS know what is best.  While I can confidently say that I frequently understand the best approach to patient conditions, this is not ALWAYS the case...And I think quality physicians will agree.

Doctors are NOT omnipotent, we do NOT know everything about everything.

Patients SHOULD QUESTION doctors when things seem unclear.  Ask for explanations and clarifications regarding the situation.  Quality doctors should take time to explain,  clarify and even provide documentation supporting their clinical decision making process.  This clearly requires clinicians to be "up-front" with their patients, especially during times when the unknown arises.

Hopefully if you have questions next time you are with your doctor, you will feel more inclined to ASK them...

Clinicians should be: 
  • Confident yet Humble
  • Knowledgeable yet Aware of their Limitations
  • Scientific yet Compassionate
  • Intelligent yet Open-minded

After all, we are all human beings, capable of making mistakes. 


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    Erik Korzen DC is a chiropractic physician and educator.  He is passionate about re-defining the chiropractic profession and is somewhat of an "Anatomy Geek".


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