Safer treatments not the first choice for doctors

DOCTORS tend to be more cautious when recommending  treatments for their patients than for themselves, according to findings from a US study.

Researchers presented 242 hospital doctors and family physicians with two hypothetical treatment options for patients with colon cancer. 

The first treatment had an 80% cure rate and complications in only 4% of patients. The remaining 16% of patients died because the treatment failed. 

In the second treatment, 80% of patients were cured, and 20% died. More than a third of the doctors surveyed chose the treatment with the higher death rate – but no complications – for themselves, but just 24.5% chose that option for a patient.

Another 698 doctors were asked about a hypothetical immunoglobulin treatment to fight avian influenza. 

The treatment halved the risk of death and hospitalisation for those who contracted the virus, but had possible side-effects,