22nd June 2020
Harming your health and harming your pocket
Since ‘fake news’ received Presidential approval, the previously murky boundary between information and marketing has disappeared entirely. There is no shortage in the number of advertisements which offer to help health practitioners recognise a problem, diagnose it, plan and execute the treatment, all using their services and products. If a health professional needs all of this support, should they be treating you at all?
But wait, there’s more! Just use a ‘Do-It-Yourself Kit’ to provide a ‘consumer-direct’ product without the ‘middle-person’ (i.e. health professional), with a supposedly ‘huge cost saving’. Unfortunately, the fine print also clearly states that the user of the product bears all responsibility for any adverse outcomes.
The New Sad Reality
In the acclaimed book, the Death of Expertise, author Tom Nichols mourns the Google-fuelled, Wickipedia-based, blog-driven collapse of any division between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. Without real experts, everyone can be an ‘expert’ on everything. Others welcome the ‘democratisation’ of knowledge that Google and Wickipedia because if ‘established knowledge goes unchallenged, then progress cannot occur’. However, the democratisation of knowledge and wider public participation does not automatically mean that all opinions are of equal value, rather that it allows the public to ask better questions. Questions improve communication in healthcare and reveal areas of an explanation that are not immediately grasped. A skilled health practitioner doesn’t just say ‘trust me’. Instead they choose to explain the concept another way to ensure the patient completely understands their treatment options along with the respective advantages and disadvantages. Only then can a patient make a truly informed decision.
Providing the Correct Information and Taking Responsibility
Health professionals must combine their ever-improving skills and contemporary evidence-based treatment proposals to serve the needs, desires and preferences of the patient (where possible). The patient needs to bring clear concerns, questions and an open mind to allow the health professional to translate, guide and explain areas that the patient is unfamiliar with.
Both sides need to respectfully listen to what the other is saying.
Some patients seek multiple opinions until they find a practitioner who gives them the advice that they want to hear. Not surprisingly, when an adverse outcome is experienced, they moan on ‘un-social media’ that they were given ‘bad treatment’, not that they made a bad choice. All of us are responsible for our decisions, both good and bad. The uninformed seeking services from the unskilled (who often have vested financial interests) is a recipe for health disaster. Fortunately, people rarely die from dental procedures, however, unnecessary or inappropriate treatment is often difficult and expensive to fix up.
Where you can find the information that you need to make good dental health decisions:
- Check that your chosen practitioner actually has the necessary expertise in your area of concern www.ahpra.gov.au
- Check the ‘Your Dental Health’ section of the Australian Dental Association website
- Check the Orthodontics Australia website