Nearly a third of physicians believe that they should not share serious medical errors with their patients while another study found out that?55% of doctors often report?a better patient prognosis than what the facts support. Unfortunately, these omissions, deliberate or otherwise on the part of medical professionals may have serious consequences on patients and their families. Not receiving the correct information can cause sick people to make bad decisions or take no action at all believing that there is nothing seriously wrong with their health. The outcomes of poor communication even in the?age of technological breakthroughs?can be fatal such as deaths, deterioration of health, further complications or the inability to prepare for peaceful and dignified death.
Absence of Critical Information to Make Sound Decisions
A doctor is someone professional whom the patient trusts to provide the correct diagnosis when ill and?prescribe the proper treatment. In short, people entrust their physical & mental health and life in the hands of the physician. Alas, when a medical professional does not communicate all the information, the patient or any participant to a medical study or experiment is not able to reach an informed decision.
Such was the situation in the?Skid Cancer Row Case in the US?in the 1950s. Homeless men from Lower Manhattan were invited to participate in a prostate study in exchange for food and shelter. However, the subjects whose prostates were biopsied weren?t informed of the consequences of the procedure such as rectal tearing and impotence. The homeless were targeted because these tests were painful, and new and less vulnerable groups would not volunteer. Homeless people would have limited access to malpractice lawyers to sue doctors/researchers for the unwanted side effects.
Medical Jargon Is a Communication Hindrance
In addition to the lack of communication between doctors and patients, medical terms are often sources of misunderstanding. These days, reports and communications are done via email effectively reducing the number of face-to-face interactions. Diagnosis reports are bound to include medical terms which the average person might not understand.
Common terms used in the medical world such as malignant, benign, lesions and ulcers may not even be understood by patients according to Hayes et al.??Timely actions fail to happen because a patient did not comprehend the severity of their medical situation. A doctor may also fail to explain in simple terms what their diagnosis represents or tend not to follow up what should be done under the assumption that the patient will initiate the actions especially when it involves consulting specialists for treatment.
Without a doubt a good doctor-patient line of communication is critical for the effective delivery of healthcare and medical interventions. Failure on the part of physicians to reveal all the information necessary including all possible side effects will not enable patients to make good decisions. On the part of patients, doing research and even seeking another medical opinion can ensure that they have all the necessary elements to decide on their treatments.