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Helping Patients Take Responsibility for Their Own Health

Andrew Herxheimer, MB, FRCP
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Dr. Herxheimer: United Kingdom Cochrane Centre; Oxford OX2 7LG, United Kingdom

Current Author Address: Andrew Herxheimer, MB, FRCP, 9 Park Crescent, London N3 2NL, United Kingdom; e-mail, Andrew_Herxheimer@compuserve.com.

Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(1):51-52. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-135-1-200107030-00013
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Patients consult a physician when they feel that a symptom requires expert assessment and advice. With a new problem, the physician generally makes the diagnosis, perhaps suggests some investigation, offers a treatment plan, and, it is hoped, explains it all to the patient. With an existing or a recurrent problem, the patient often already knows the diagnosis, may understand what investigation is needed, and has experience with the treatment. Therefore, he or she may not need to visit the physician—although professional confirmation and empathy may be welcome. Physicians practicing patient-centered medicine recognize such learning (1) and should encourage patients who can satisfactorily identify and investigate a problem and treat it appropriately; doing so saves time, effort, and money for all parties.

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