Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Do physicians know what they don't know?

I work in the field of continuing medical education or CME. I always find it interesting to survey physicians and to study whether they really know what they don't know. In other words, are most physicians aware of their knowledge gaps or are they simply too busy to think about what they may not know? Some physicians recognize and admit that they may not be current on the latest practice guidelines for a specific disease or condition. This is especially true when new clinical breakthroughs are announced at major medical meetings.

So, how do we tell physicians about their own knowledge gaps? After all, they're so busy and many of them don't participate in surveys or continuing medical education activities about certain topics. How do we tell them that they don't know something? Do patients need to play a more proactive role in printing out some of the latest abstracts so they can bring them for their physicians? When my dad went to see his endocrinologist, he always had 3 or 4 articles that he would print and show his physician. Most of the time, his physician was grateful for the information. I think my dad enjoyed the fact that he could teach his doctor something about medicine.

Given that physicians are often so busy with their clinical workload, how do they stay current on all the latest developments that occur in the complex world of health care?  I talk about this with my wife all the time since she's a busy family physician.

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