Doctors hear it all the time – patients who ask them about something they heard on TV. And there is a lot of this type of information to deal with because there is a constant stream of medical claims being made by people on television, some who are doctors, and some who are not.
It can be very frustrating for physicians to help their patients separate fact from fiction in all of the claims that are made on television. But some medical experts say it can also be an opportunity to help educate patients and to get them more interested in and responsible for their own health.
The claims on television may be of a spurious nature. There may be little in the way of evidence to back them up, and this is a big issue for physicians to deal with. But another big problem with these claims is that they are presented as cures for everyone, regardless of their medical history or condition.
But it just doesn’t work that way, physicians say. What may work for one person may not be good for another. There is not a lot in the way of general medical advice that doctors can give to all people beyond a few basic guidelines, such as eating vegetables, exercising, and getting vaccinated.
However, many physicians say they are glad when a patient brings up medical information he or she got from TV because, they say, it can lead to a discussion of more effective and medically sound treatments, ones based on sound evidence.
Regardless of how physicians view their television counterparts, the phenomenon is not going to go away. It is now a fact of life of practicing medicine that physicians are going to have to deal with the information being disseminated on television.
That being the case, physicians need to develop a strategy for dealing with the situation.
One physician watches the television shows himself to see what they are recommending, and then he does research himself to find out how effective the products or procedures really are. This method, however, may not be for everybody because it is time consuming.
Other physicians stress that they can diagnose and treat their patients better than any TV doctor because they know the patient as an individual. They know his or her unique medical history and medical condition, and are therefore in the best position to treat him or her.
Other physicians stress the importance of using patient questions about TV cures to probe deeper. Why, for example, is the patient interested in a particular TV product? It may help the physician to deal with the causes of a patient’s condition more effectively.
Moreover, some medical experts say physicians need to speak out as well when TV cures are misleading or spurious, to let the public know when they are being deceived.
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