Empowered patients will be interested in a report today on the study results of a survey of Chicago area internists (family doctors). It seems that 45% of them see nothing wrong in prescribing placebos — fake sugar pills — for their patients.
The report actually tiptoes around what the results really mean. The spinmeisters had their say with phrases like, ” this study suggests that placebos themselves are viewed as therapeutic tools in medical practice” and “a growing number of physicians believe in mind-body connection.”
Yes — I do understand that sometimes the mind triumphs over matter — and I do understand the mind-body connection theories. I’m a believer.
I don’t bring this up because I think patients shouldn’t be given what works — and if a sugar pill will help the pain or symptoms go away — then OK. But that is NOT why doctors are giving their patients sugar pills.
Instead I see these results as proof that doctors don’t care to take the time to figure out what is really wrong with a patient and that, too often, a placebo is simply the answer to “there, there, little lady — it’s all in your head.” If you could read my email, you’d believe the same thing.
The fact that 45% of doctors would be willing to sacrifice their patients’ potential health by ignoring real symptoms or not treating them accurately is just one more reason why trust continues to erode between patients and their doctors.
And if they think the sugar pills can really help a patient? Then they should tell them that’s what it is. According to this report, that is most often obscured.
Check your medicine cabinet. If you find something labled Obecalp (which is placebo backwards) or Cepocab — which is a pill made of lactose, a natural sugar, and can be prescribed and filled at pharmacies everywhere — then your doctor has prescribed a placebo for you.
Ethical? Unethical? What do you call it when someone pulls the wool over your eyes?
If you’d like to read more, you can do so here.
Wise patients know that asking plenty of questions is the best approach to making sure they aren’t victims of a placebo prescription. When your doctor writes a prescription, there are definite steps that can be taken to verify that the prescription is bonafide, that it’s the right drug for the right problem, and what to expect when you take it.
Wise patients work to make sure they aren’t being fooled.
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