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When Being a Good Patient is Bad for Your Health

January 26, 2013, 2:30 PM

What's the Latest Development?

In the medical profession, patient obedience to doctors' orders is called compliance. But for Susan Gubar, professor emerita of English at Indiana University, diligently following the advice of her medical professionals did not keep two stints from being left inside her during surgery, which in turn triggered "a massive infection followed by an allergic response to antibiotics." Gubar initially thought she could charm her way to good health, "adding a pinch of obedience, a dash of gratitude, and a smidgen of eccentricity to the mix."

What's the Big Idea?

In hindsight, Gubar wishes she had been more aggressive in pursuing better treatment from her health care professionals: "...too much ingratiating docility can be dangerous to a patient’s health. If I had persisted in asking my surgeon about the fate of the stents that he had implanted in my body, he might have remembered to remove them. ... So much for the magical thinking that good patients receive the best care. Being a submissive or dutiful patient doesn’t always pay off. Who exactly was I being good for? Sometimes it’s good to be bad."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The New York Times


When Being a Good Patient i...

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