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Public more susceptible to health scares, say 84% of doctors

26 October 2009

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Eight out of ten (84%) doctors say the public are more susceptible to health scares these days, according to a poll published in BMA News, the British Medical Association’s (BMA) weekly publication for doctors.

And 80% of doctors did not believe the government was doing enough to rebut the scare stories.

The BMA’s snapshot poll asked doctors how coverage of health issues impacts on them and their patients, and follows the recent scare over the HPV vaccination.

Natalie Morton, aged 14, died shortly after receiving the cervical cancer jab. A post-mortem revealed there was no connection between her death and the vaccine.

A Staffordshire GP trainee said breaking the HPV vaccine story before the cause of death was determined was irresponsible, as it turned out to be irrelevant. However, the fact the story was run adds an element of doubt to the public’s mind.

Responding to the BMA’s poll, one junior doctor said that he had needed to reassure patients about the chances of being aware during an anaesthetic following the film Awake.

A London specialist registrar in anaesthesia said pop star Michael Jackson’s death had led to occasional patients expressing concern about the use of the anaesthetic drug propofol.