Well-Informed Patient

  • Marginal Osteophytes at multiple levels 
  • Dorso-lumbar vertebrae 
  • Dextroscoliosis Lumbar Spine 
  • Degenerative endplate, irregular margins L-2  I 3-4 with reduced disk spaces
  • Bilateral Facet arthropathic changes at multiple levels


My father- in- law (FIL) was told by the doctor that he was suffering from all the above conditions and that surgery would be required to alleviate his pain. The fact that he needed surgery rattled him and he immediately called my husband. My husband noted down the details, researched it and let his dad know that it simply meant arthritis of the spine and most probably he won’t require surgery.

FIL went for second opinion and was relieved to know that he didn’t require surgery. But my husband raised a doubt as to why he was prescribed Rantac, an acid reducer without being prescribed a steroid. He wanted FIL to call up his doctor and clarify the issue but FIL outrightly refused to do so because he thought doing so would insult his doctor.

Why is it that in India we believe being subservient means being respectful? In fact, won’t a well informed and participatory patient be more helpful to the doctor in making an accurate diagnosis and a suitable treatment plan? Wouldn’t it be relieving for the doctor to go from playing God to being a partner in solving the problem? In this age of commercialization one would think that, acting in self interest, people would be very interested in equipping themselves with all the basic facts of life, knowledge of health issues being one of them. But I find that’s not the case.

Most people I know would rather spend their time binge-watching cricket matches or junk movies than getting to know their own body and mind. Is it because they are too lazy to learn and think it is too boring and beyond their comprehension? Is it so bothersome that they want the luxury of someone else completely taking charge of all their health issues?

Ultimately, our health is our responsibility and being a well-informed patient has become a necessity in today’s world. 



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