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Medicine Science

Most UK GPs Have Prescribed Placebos 240

Techmeology writes "In a survey of UK GPs, 97% said they'd recommended placebo treatments to their patients, with some doctors telling patients that the treatment had helped others without telling them that it was a placebo. While some doctors admitted to using a sugar pill or saline injection, some of the placebos offered had side effects such as antibiotic treatments used as placebos for viral infections."
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Most UK GPs Have Prescribed Placebos

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  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @04:52AM (#43244279)

    A family friend, an old and wise ear, nose and throat doctor, mentioned at a dinner party, that about 25% of his patients had an emotional problem, not a physical one. He lamented that younger doctors did not take time to ask patients questions about how their life, family and job status were going. The younger doctors would just try to prescribe pills too quickly, and refer the patient to a specialist, like himself. A neurologist and another doctor at the table agreed.

    Of course, now many doctors have time constraints for patient visits imposed by insurance companies. So prescribing a placebo is the easier choice than really talking to the patients, and dealing with more paperwork, for an extended consultation.

    That was in the US; I don't know how that is in the UK.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @07:27AM (#43244861) Journal

    I expect it is more of a case of not being able to fully rule out a bacterial infection so they prescribe the anti-biotics to cover all their bases and to help the patient feel like their problems are being taken seriously.

    It's not just that. One of my colleagues was given antibiotics for flu a few years ago. He asked the doctor why they were giving him antibiotics for a viral infection, and the doctor told him that there was a bacterial chest infection going around and people whose immune systems were weakened by the flu weren't able to fight it off. Having two lung infections in a row could easily cause serious damage, and so they prescribed antibiotics to avoid this.

  • by Inda ( 580031 ) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Friday March 22, 2013 @07:58AM (#43244989) Journal
    We went through this with our daughter when she was still in pre-school. Constant ear infections, with no evidence of such. We thought our daughter was trying it on and so did our doctor.

    I'll always remember the look my UK doctor and I shared. It was pure mutual understanding. He said "we'll try these homeopathic pills" and then we shared eye contact. I knew the pills were bollocks; he knew they were bollocks.

    We both explained to my daughter that these pills would cure her forever and the nice white sugar pills in the fancy packet did just that. She hasn't complained of an ear infection since.

    It's all good.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll