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As a practicing physician educator and health system administrator this Story about brusque care blindly following controversial guidelines without shared decisions deeply saddens me.

The behavior of many of the caregivers described is clearly not compassionate, or even professional. Additionally, the underlying culture of blindly following guideline-driven care using important but incomplete and controversial medical science is a devastating indictment of the vocation that I entered. Doctors are healers and life-givers first, and healing or life-giving involves practices much deeper than simply using technology only partially tested in small groups regardless of its effects on the individual encountered in an exam room.

If your physician or their assistants are not listening to you or your specific needs, as in this story of being rushed through an exam and having symptoms that appear after complex medical therapy ignored, take charge of your care by asserting your concerns until they are addressed.

And insist on learning the benefits, risks, alternatives and unknowns of any treatment plan your doctor has. Asserting your right to hear them and having your doctor explain them aloud may help your doctor to realize that the plan that simply follows the guidelines may not be the best plan for you or your family member.

The evidence from the SPRINT trial that was used to create the blood pressure guidelines in this story is flawed and controversial because the study did not contain enough subjects to be scientifically certain (even though it was considered statistically certain, a vastly different and deficient kind of certainty). And as some of the doctors in the article discuss, even reasonable guidelines are meant to be applied individually, not uniformly.

If your doctor can’t or won’t explain the full details of how the guidelines they’re applying to you were created, they may not be making the best decision for you, and they’re definitely not engaging your collaboration by allowing you to apply your own needs and values to share in the decision.

We can help you understand guidelines, and collaborate better with your doctors. Call for a free consultation to learn more.