What if you leave a general practitioner’s consultation hour without a diagnosis? “The group of patients experiencing this is enormous”

“It’s all in your head”, is what people with health problems are often told at the general practitioner. According to APH-researcher Nettie Blankenstein, specialist in misunderstood complaints, that is a serious matter. “One would never say that to someone dealing with a depression”. “Quickly get rid of them. The more attention you pay to such patients, the worse it gets”. Nettie Blankenstein, head of the general practice training VUmc, overheard this being said by an older colleague on a party. The term ‘such patients’ referred to people with health complaints the doctor cannot properly diagnose.

Just the thing to say to Blankenstein, 30 years experience as general practitioner, and an obtained doctorate on so-called medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS). She contributed to pretty much all the guidelines on how doctors should best handle such complaints. “What that doctor said on that party is at odds with everything we now know about patients with badly understood complaints”, says Blankenstein.

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