Health chief wants Falkirk patients to ditch ‘doctor knows best’ culture

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland's chief medical officer, wants patients to ask their GPs about the risks and benefits of proposed treatment
Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland's chief medical officer, wants patients to ask their GPs about the risks and benefits of proposed treatment

Scotland’s chief medical officer (CMO) wants Falkirk patients to ask their doctors or nurses key questions as part of a bid to end “harm and waste” caused by over-treatment.

Forth Valley is one of four health boards chosen to pilot a scheme which aims to move away from a “doctor knows best culture”.

In a report, CMO Dr Catherinre Calderwood said: “We want to ensure patients receive care and treatment that’s right for them.

“I want to see a change in culture to one where both professionals and people receiving care combine their expertise and become more comfortable in sharing decision making.

“That’s why the five questions feature in my report - because they offer a simple and straightforward way to have better conversations between doctors patients and their families”.

The key questions are -

Is this test, treatment or procedure really needed?

What are the potential benefits and risks?

What are the possible side effects?

Are their safer, simpler or alternative options?

What would happen if I did nothing?

Dr Calderwood added: “One of the ways in which we can bring realistic medicine into practice is by addressing the harm and waste caused by over-provision and over-treatment.

“By freeing up resources which are currently being used to no clinical benefit, we will be able to re-invest in healthcare that provides better value to patients.

“That’s why we will shortly publish the beginnings of a publically-accessible National Atlas of Variation for Health and Healthcare.

“There have been times when I’ve realised that I have privileged access to information about my care simply because of my own medical training.

“I hope that patients will be able to use Atlas data to discuss their options with their doctors and avoid the potential harm caused by unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures”.