Little is known about the consumption of medical and surgical services by the most informed consumer in the health care market: the physician-patient. Such knowledge should be important for the understanding of the role of information on consumption, supplier-induced demand, the doctor-patient relationship, unnecessary medical services, and the adequacy of professional practices to the renal health needs of the "ordinary patient." We measured by questionnaire the standardized consumption of seven common surgical procedures. Except for appendectomy, the age- and sex-standardized consumption for each of the common surgical procedures was always significantly higher in the general population than for the "gold standard" of physician-patients. The data suggest that (a) contrary to prior research, doctors have much lower rates of surgery than does the general population; and (b) in a fee-for-services health care market without financial barriers to medical care, less-informed patients are greater consumers of common surgical procedures.