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Two hypothetical situations were presented: one involved choosing between two types of colon cancer surgery; the less deadly option's risks included having to wear a colostomy bag and chronic diarrhea. The other situation involved choosing no treatment for the flu, or choosing a made-up treatment less deadly than the disease but which could cause permanent paralysis.
In the colon cancer scenario, about 38 percent of doctors chose the deadlier treatment for themselves, while 25 percent recommended that option for patients.
In the flu scenario, 63 percent chose the deadlier option of no treatment for themselves, versus 49 percent recommending it for patients.
Some advocates of giving patients a more active role in their care contend that doctors shouldn't make recommendations, but instead should neutrally present options, an Archives editorial notes.
But in tough situations, "it might not be fair to lay out the a la carte options and leave it to the patients" to decide, said editorial co-author Dr. Roshni Guerry.
But before making recommendations, doctors should discuss patients' personal, cultural and religious beliefs, and make sure that the doctors' own values don't get in the way, according to the editorial by Guerry and Drs. Eric Shaban and Timothy Quill, all from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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