Doctors are people-pleasers, and as a physician, I want, on some fundamental level, for my patients to be happy-- happy with my care, happy with their outcomes, and happy with my medical advice.
But sometimes doing the right thing for someone-- medically speaking-- means making them unhappy. It may mean declining to operate on a person with unrealistic expectations. It may mean prescribing someone a medication with an unpleasant side effect. It may mean restricting a patient's travel or exercise schedule after surgery. In short, it may mean practicing good, careful, evidence-based medicine, instead of bowing to the very human and understandable factors that make people feel good.
During my residency training, one of my mentors used to say, alluding to Shakespeare's Henry IV, "sometimes discretion is the better part of valour." In my plastic surgery practice, I take this to mean that mindful caution takes precedence over rash courage. (Apologies to Shakespeare scholars who have devoted entire books to debating the complexities of this turn of phrase.)
Now, new research shows that high patient satisfaction ratings are actually associated with worse patient outcomes, higher medical costs, and higher mortality rates. Making sure that people have a good experience with health care is important, but so too is making sure that we are making the right decisions for them. Click to read a few articles on this new research below.