The 3 questions every patient should ask their doctor.


A new study shows that doctors are actually quite bad at estimating the benefit and harm associated with treatments they prescribe.

As a chiropractor I am a primary contact practitioner. This means that patients come to see me with all types of ailments, some of which are chiropractic issues (for which we can help) and others are not, which we need to be aware of and refer out.

As a result, on the initial consultation we perform a detailed medical history. I am amazed at the amount of times patients are unaware as to why they are taking certain medications or why they have had certain medical procedures performed.

We all have an individual responsibility towards OUR OWN health, and naturally this includes our healthcare.



In a systematic review of 48 studies performed in 17 countries and involving more than 13,000 clinicians, they found that doctors rarely had accurate expectations of benefits or harms. The inaccuracies were in both directions but more often, harm was underestimated and benefit overestimated. V

If highly trained doctors don’t understand their colleagues’ intentions it stands to reason that most patients feel even more hapless, caught in an endless tangle of tests and explanations but the knowledge and power asymmetry is such that it’s impossible to question the doctor, who must surely know better (if not best).


To help make better decisions with your doctor on benefit vs harm, here are three questions that every patient should ask of every new proposed drug or intervention: 


  • What are my options?

  • What are the specific benefits and harms to me?

  • What happens if I do nothing?


If patients asked these questions more often and doctors took it upon themselves to answer faithfully, medicine might yet experience a new dawn.


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