Doctors Who Don’t Listen to Patients

Drug makers learn about adverse reactions from the use of their drugs by getting reports from doctors, who get reports from patients. But what if the doctors ignore the patients’ reports? That, it turns out, is not unusual. Among chemotherapy patients, for example:

  • Patients report fatigue a third more often than doctors and nurses relay those reports.
  • Appetite loss is reported four times as often by patients as by doctors and nurses.
  • For nausea and diarrhea, it’s about twice as often.

Comments (6)

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  1. Vicki says:

    I’m not surprised at this finding.

  2. Tom H. says:

    I’m not surprised either. But, then again, doctors are busy people and a lot of these complaints are not life threatening.

  3. Virginia says:

    Ditto. I can see how patients might exaggerate their symptoms a little, but it’s hard to miss the “mouth ulcers” associated with Bextra. But, I personally find that I have a hard time communicating with doctors. It’s always a frustrating experience.

  4. Ken says:

    Here’s betting that doctors reporting symptoms to drug companies is yet another example of nonbillable time. Am I right?

  5. Linda Gorman says:

    As usual, we aren’t getting the full story. Apparently the “doctors screw up” template is just too attractive.

    The real question is whether raw patient data filtered through physicians has a higher signal to noise ratio than raw patient data filtered by some researcher using heaven knows what algorithm. There’s no discussion of that. The reader is simply led to believe that the researcher will save the day.

    As for the author’s skin eruption: The Stevens-Johnson syndrome mentioned as having been “linked” to Bextra is rare. The literature suggests that it is less than 2.0 cases per million. A 2007 study of all cases in German hospitals treating patients with severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome concluded that the 5 case reports of Stevens-Johnson suggested that the valdecoxib skin reactions were not the same as those caused by Stevens-Johnson. So much for linkage.

    Finding this out took 10 minutes of internet searching. It puts the touching story of the author’s lip sore into rather different context.

  6. Joe S. says:

    Thanks, Linda. We can always count on you to set the record straight.