Blog | Thursday, March 6, 2014


Noncompliance means I think the patient should do it this way and the patient didn’t do it this way.

“Noncompliance” makes no effort to figure out why the patient did what they did, or what alternatives they might have selected instead.

“Noncompliance’ makes no effort to figure out if the alternative suggested (or: mandated) by the doctor was the best of all possible alternatives in the first place.

The noncompliant patient is by definition not a team player. Not the sort of patient you want to be—or the sort of patient you want to treat (if you are a provider).

“Noncompliance” is never good.

Can we get rid, once and for all, of “noncompliance”?

Can we talk about what people do and why they do it?

Can we quit assuming that doctors know better?

Can we advise and let patients choose?

Still waiting.

Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews. He is also a poet, journalist and translator in Yiddish and English. This post originally appeared at his blog.