A case of an erroneous preference diagnosis?

“Misdiagnosing patients’ preferences may be less obvious than misdiagnosing disease, but the consequences for the patient can be just as severe”, states a new publication from the Kings Fund – Patients’ preferences matter: stop the silent misdiagnosis.

The author, Al Mulley, argues that well informed patients make different choices about their treatment. Also, patients’ may want different things to their doctors and there are big differences across different geographical areas.

How to address these important preferences is challenging in a busy clinical practice. It is easy to make assumptions about what another person would prefer. In medicine we often feel we act in the patient’s best interests but when was the last time we had the opportunity to really explore the implications of a certain decision, or plan ahead with a patient to future events to help shape their care?

This is a useful paper, freely available to download, that offers some suggestions for how health care systems can avoid the erroneous preference diagnosis.