A disconnect in Consumer Reports survey of doctors and patients

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The thing that jumped out at me most from the Consumer Reports survey of almost 700 primary care physicians and thousands of CR subscribers – described by CR as “What doctors wish their patients knew” – was something about what patients wish their doctors knew. From the CR summary:

“The medical profession has not always been the most transparent. The American Medical Association, for example, has fought to keep the Medicare payment records of individual doctors confidential. Here are a couple of things that primary-care doctors might not want to tell you:

* They talk to drug companies more than you might realize. The majority of doctors we surveyed said that pharmaceutical company representatives contacted them more than 10 times a month. Thirty-six percent were contacted more than 20 times a month. On average doctors said they spend a few hours a week dealing with pharmaceutical salespeople.

Our patient survey suggests that’s a possible point of friction. Patients were less satisfied when they thought their doctors relied too much on prescription drugs and were unwilling to consider nontraditional or nondrug treatments. More than one-quarter of patients indicated some level of discomfort with their doctors’ inclination to prescribe drugs. If you are concerned about your doctor’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies, don’t hesitate to bring up the subject at your next visit.

* Doctors are dubious about patients’ need to know about malpractice claims or professional disciplinary actions. Forty-seven percent said information about whether the physician has been involved in a malpractice lawsuit was “of little value.” Only 17 percent said that information about disciplinary actions by medical licensing boards was “very valuable.”

Wow, that feels like a disconnect!

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