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Jane Bates: so much for modern medicine

There is an important distinction between cure and treatment, but some patients just don’t get it, says Jane Bates. 
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There is an important distinction between cure and treatment, but some patients just don’t get it, says Jane Bates

‘Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always,’ said the illustrious pillar of modern medicine, Hippocrates.

I was recently reminded of the ‘cure sometimes, treat often’ part when I started to notice something unusual – patients confusing treatment with cure.

In these enlightened days, with health information all over the television, internet and newspapers, it is astonishing that people still get confused. But they do.

Information breakdown

Ask a patient if they have high blood pressure, for example, and they say no, yet they are taking hypotensives. ‘Well I did have it but my pills are making me better,’ they say.

I have to explain, gently, that they are not cured but are being treated, and that there is an important distinction.

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