There is an interesting study out of Boston showing the disconnect between what doctors think they are telling patients and what patients understand. Hat tip to Health News Review for highlighting the story.
The study looked at patients with stable chest pain who elected to have their arteries opened with angioplasty and stents.
More than 80 percent of the 153 patients surveyed thought the stent would decrease their chance of having a heart attack and increase their chance of surviving a heart attack. For stable chest pain, however, stents do not prolong life. The bits of metal mesh only improve blood flow and sometimes make a patient feel better. And more than 80 percent of the cardiologists surveyed in the study understood that the stents would not save any lives and the doctors thought they explained that to patients.
Here’s what UNC’s Dr. Michael Pignone had to say:
Patients are not to blame for the misunderstanding about angioplasty and stents, said Dr. Michael Pignone, a medical editor for the Boston-based Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making and a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
“The onus is on us as health care professionals to really drill down to what is the essential information,’’ Pignone said. “We need to learn from patients what is the most important information to them.’’
It’s difficult to know whether or not doctors are misremembering what they said or whether patients are listening to their hopes instead of the cardiologist. But we know that properly informed patients are more likely to choose less invasive procedures. That is why shared decision making is a key part of controlling health care costs.