Incomplete medical information can influence your decisions affecting your health: Dr Harsh Nihlani

Dr Harsh Nihlani, MBBS, MD (AIIMS), DNB, MNAMS, FMIGS, MCh (Reproductive Medicine and Surgery) is a reproductive medicine and surgery consultant at Krishna IVF Centre in Visakhapatnam. With about nine years of experience, Dr Nihlani is passionate about helping people fulfil the dream of having a baby.

When a patient explains to you about their health problems, what are the most common mistakes they make in their communication?

Patients often confuse their health, personal, and professional issues, resulting in a mixed-up account of their health problems. They typically share a blend of opinions, self-diagnoses, and only partial details about their actual health concerns. Family views, peer pressure, and financial stress often influence their portrayal of the problem. As a result, many patients form their own diagnoses and have a fixed perspective.

What does health literacy mean to you, and why is it important in patient care?

Health literacy is an essential tool for making informed decisions about one’s well-being. However, it comes with challenges stemming from the varying levels of information accessible to individuals. Firstly, insufficient information can lead to blind adherence to a doctor’s advice or make individuals susceptible to misinformation. Secondly, having only partial information can result in suboptimal decision-making concerning one’s health. Lastly, an overload of health-related data, particularly from online sources, can burden healthcare professionals. This is especially prevalent among corporate workers who may attempt self-diagnosis and formulate treatment strategies based on extensive online searches. Thus, while health literacy is invaluable, it’s crucial to navigate the spectrum of information effectively to ensure informed and well-balanced decisions regarding health.

If a patient is knowledgeable about the basics of their health condition, how helpful is it for the overall treatment procedure?

Enhanced interaction and dialogue between patients and healthcare providers lead to improved communication and more fruitful discussions. This empowerment results in patients being better equipped to make informed choices about their health. As a result, trust in the healthcare system increases, reducing the risk of miscommunication or breakdowns in communication between patients and healthcare professionals.

How does medical misinformation impact treatment procedures?

Inefficient allocation of time and financial resources is a consequence of wasting time, finances, and resources in the realm of healthcare. Misinformed decisions or outcomes can escalate litigation risks, increasing the chances of legal action. Furthermore, this scenario can amplify illness severity, ultimately compromising overall well-being and diminishing the quality of life, thereby highlighting the importance of efficient resource utilization and informed decision-making in the healthcare sector.

What are the most common myths or misinformation you see your patients falling prey to?

One of the most prevalent misconceptions people tend to believe involves seeking treatment recommendations from online sources or videos on the internet.

What is your most common advice to patients to stay away from health misinformation online?

The primary guidance I often provide to my patients is to assess the credibility of information, determine its source and talk to health experts.

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