Treating a patient with an eating disorder can often feel like walking on eggshells; it is easy to say or do the wrong thing. I’ve covered this topic in my previous posts. In my first post, I wrote about negative attitudes that health care providers often have with regard to eating disorder patients and in my second post, I covered some ways in which caring clinicians that do work with ED patients may – usually inadvertently - negatively impact treatment, often by impairing the physician-patient/caregiver relationship.
But let’s forget about clinicians for a second, what if the treatment environment itself is damaging? Could treatment itself do more harm than good?
That’s the question that Walter Vandereycken explored in this commentary article. (This interesting paper was brought to my attention by a reader – you know who you are, so thanks!)
And just to be really clear Vandereycken doesn’t mean contagious in the infectious-disease kind of way. Coming into contact with someone who has an eating disorder is not going to put you in danger of getting an eating disorder yourself.…
My previous post on the effectiveness of residential treatment centers (RTCs) generated a lot of discussion. A point that was raised several times, on the blog, on Facebook and other forums was the fact that there are risks in choosing an RTC for treatment.
Laura Collins did a great job of articulating some of the risks in her comment:
There risks are not specific to RTCs. They hold true for inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and to a lesser extent, outpatient treatment. I thought it would be nice to explore in more depth some of the risks associated with treatment. If you are receiving treatment or are the caregiver of someone who is, hopefully this will help you in recognizing what to avoid and when to seek alternative treatment options.
Inadvertent effects that are associated with the treatment itself, whether it is due to medication or actions of the physician/healthcare provider, are called iatrogenic.
Also, if you are wondering about Part 1, you can check it out here: When Clinicians Do More Harm Than Good (Attitudes Toward Patients with Eating Disorders). …