A person has the right to be informed about his or her own state of health by his or her own decision.
Helsingin sanomat newspaper has recently written twice about how people’s interest in their own health and the provision of medical research to citizens without a referral can cause problems (HS Domestic 3.4. and HS Editorial 10.4).
The writings opened up an important debate to which we as diagnostic professionals want to bring our own perspective.
The editorial stated that health care resources are always limited because there are only a certain number of doctors and nurses. Historically, resources have also been scarce.
There is still a shortage, but in many places the situation has changed decisively, especially in diagnostics. For example, Synlab has a lot of unused capacity. It would allow us to take more than 200,000 laboratory samples each year or do 40,000 more magnetic scans without leaving anyone unexamined. Of course, we have a commercial interest in selling capacity, but the decision to buy a study is always made by the customer.
Thus, there is enough capacity in diagnostics, and the user of the service does not take the research site from anyone else. He does not take any financial resources either, because he pays for his research in full himself.
The editorial stated that “unnecessary” investigations may give rise to undue concerns. Based on our customer feedback, it has been undeniable that people are driven to research specifically by anxiety about lack of information. Conversely, the statement in the editorial: Is it better not to know than to know if the information is a cause for concern? This is an intolerable idea for an individual – so he or she would not have a right to the knowledge of his or her own body, even if he or she bears the cost of the research himself or herself?
In our view, the main issue in this debate is that power is being transferred from experts to individuals. The patient becomes a more active decision-making client.
We believe that a person has the right to be informed about their own state of health by their own decision. The expertise of experts is still needed both in medicine and elsewhere in society, but we believe that the increase in the power and, at the same time, the responsibility of the average citizen is a very favorable and pro-democratic development.
medical director, docent, specialist in clinical microbiology
Director of Service Development, Docent, Specialist in Orthopedics and Traumatology,
Synlab Suomi oy
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