The Patient in the Room is an Expert

The Patient as Expert

The patient is an expert in his or her hair loss. Nobody really knows more about all the facts surrounding their hair loss than they do. Of course, the patient might not even know they are an expert, but they are an expert. The patient knows when their hair loss started, which parts of the scalp are more affected by the hair loss than others, which parts itch and what seems to help the hair to grow. The patient can explain more about the ins and outs of their hair loss than anyone.

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It’s true that the physician in the room is also an expert. He or she knows how to piece all the patient’s information together and what features on the patient’s examination or blood tests are relevant and which are not. The physician knows what the diagnosis is likely to be and what it simply can not be. But none of this is possible without the expertise of the patient.

I have come to realize that the patient’s story about his or her hair loss is actually more important than most give credit to. Of course, examining the scalp is important but in challenging diagnoses, it’s the patient’s story that often pushes the referral from a ‘long time mystery’ to an interesting or challenging diagnosis that finally gets solved. The patent’s story helps rule out hair loss conditions that simply don’t fit and rule in conditions that have not been thoroughly considered in the past.

The patient and physician both have expertise. However, nobody in the room will have more cumulative days and years of experience of experience with the hair issues in question than the patient in the room


Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887



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