• 20Dec

    Patient leaflets are worthless

    Des Spence, a general practitioner in Glasgow, writes a piece ‘from the frontline’ in this weeks British Medical Journal, with the eye catching title of ‘patient leaflets are worthless’. This brief article is a homage to the Internet. In it he says

    “in the main I suggest people research conditions themselves on the internet from many sources, suggesting initially various NHS sites. But there are many other opinions too—blogs, charities, discussion forums, and the rest—that are worth reading. Medicine has no definitive answers, just opinion and uncertainty. The internet might be dangerous from the perspective of patients trying to diagnose their own problems, but once they have a diagnosis, it empowers patients in a way that leaflets never did. The recent debate about official leaflets for breast screening is an irrelevance.1 Even official leaflets are never truly impartial, always open to the bias of the authors’ clinical beliefs. The genie is out of the bottle. The power once derived from knowledge is dead, and patient leaflets aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”

    If you disagree there is a discussion on the member’s area of the site; have your say.

    www.bmj.com