Increased Patient Responsibility

Powerful Essays
We like to think of medicine as a vast sea of knowledge, a science of certainty and applied research intended to heal and cure. Patients visit their doctors expecting to be diagnosed, prescribed, and treated. For several patients, this optimistic outlook is in fact the order of things. But, for many others, medicine is an experimental endeavor and very human in nature. Atul Gawande, in his collection of essays entitled Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, sheds light on this view of medicine as a field of possibilities and dead ends, improvements and failures. In spite of the many changes brought forth by medicine, the evolution of the patient and doctor relationship into one that redefines the role of the patient in healthcare is arguably the most telling. Medical progress has been met by a new generation of patients who are more educated, better informed about their health, and are playing an increasingly active role in the decision-making surrounding their care. We no longer think of medicine as a one-way road with the physician making all the decisions pertinent to the patient’s health. The effectiveness of medical care is dependent as much on a doctor’s ability to make reasonable, sound judgments as on the patient’s ailment and right to demand the best possible care. In humanizing the doctor and revealing his fallibilities, Gawande implicitly acknowledges the need for patients to become more involved in the issues relating to their medical care.

It is ironic that the advancement of medical technology in the twenty-first century has coincided with a greater awareness for patient-centered care, a development that could be attributed to the shattering of the illusion of medicine as perfect and re...

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...y, doctors can never really know with complete confidence whether a treatment will be beneficial in the long run or if the prescribed medication will yield the intended result. Nevertheless, by erasing our misconceptions of medicine as a flawless science, Gawande humanizes healthcare and allows us to reassess our understanding of patient and physician roles. Progress in medicine has influenced a type of patient-centric care that is complemented by increased patient responsibility as well as physician respect for medical autonomy.

Works Cited

Berger, J.T. "Redefining the Domains of Decision Making by Physician and Patient."

International Journal of Clinical Practice. 65.8 (2011): 828-30. Print.>. Gawande, Atul. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. New York: Picador, 2002. Print.
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