A patient goes to a doctor’s office with the belief that the doctor knows something, or has the ability to do something, that will help the patient. It is the doctor’s obligation to have knowledge, or have access to knowledge, relevant to the patient’s situation, or the training to perform a procedure to evaluate or treat the patient.
It is therefore important for the doctor to be educated in what he purports to know, to offer recommendations based on a satisfactory knowledge base. It is also important that the basis of a physician’s recommendation is the well-being of the patient, not the physician’s self-interest.
These conditions are by no means straightforward. Many types of approaches are available for most conditions, while other conditions have few proven therapies. Still, patients will always look for answers, for some kind of help, because it is not in man’s make-up to sit and do nothing in the face of adversity.
The doctor must keep in mind that a given treatment may not help the patient, or may cause complications and make the patient worse, or that the real diagnosis lies elsewhere. The age, physical and mental status of the patient must also be considered in choosing a therapy. Cardiac bypass surgery may be a proper choice for a 50 year-old, hard-driving businessman, but excessively dangerous for an 85 year-old woman with severe arthritis and emphysema. Determining the best therapy may more involve the art than the science of medicine.