Patients afraid to challenge surgeons

In theory, patients should ask surgeons some probing questions prior to getting their procedure done, including what success rate they have and how many procedures they've performed, most safety experts say. That's particularly the case of late, given big concerns over surgical complications and errors--and the unfortunate reality that hospital staff members are often afraid to challenge surgeons as well. However, while they've getting far more aggressive and informed when it comes to other specialties, it appears that patients are reluctant to ask these questions of surgeons, according to a recent analysis in the Wall Street Journal.

To compensate for this, state medical boards and specialty societies, plus consumer groups, have begun to offer educational materials helping consumers prepare to ask the hardball questions. Still, if the Journal's analysis is on target, it looks like this is a cultural gap that won't be easily closed.

To find out more about this trend:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item

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