(Original post by AT82)
Its better to be honest than not on honest though, the doctor my grandad saw was very nice, he said if I thought you would be dead in 5 years I wouldn't advise the operation but I don't think that will be case. He was 79 so even he didn't have the cancer he was likely to be dead anyway. Exactly six weeks after that doctor said that I was at my grandads funeral.
My grandad had to go through a range of emotions from "its nothing" to "you have terminal cancer" to "its nothing again"
His hopes were falsey raised as the doctor wouldn't tell him the complete truth.
I do understand that the doctors find it hard I just wish they were blunt but human at the same time.
The problem with my grandads secondary liver cancer as well seemed to be that the surgions had no idea how bad it was until they operated, by then it was too late.
I'm not saying that it's right - it's a very complex area, people do things in different ways.
I'm quite interested in all this as I want to move in cancer circles, but someone who doesn't might not have the same 'enthusiasm' for getting it right - especially if breaking bad news is smaller part of what they ususally do.
The problem with getting it right is that there's no one consensus on how to do it - what works for one person might not work for another. Unfortunately the limits on a doctors time are great, and there isn't much time for trying to find what is right for any one patient. Loads of studies have been conducted (I can post some refs when I got home from work) to try to find a generic method for breaking news, but most have concluded it's impossible, or come up with something so generic that it is not of much use.
I would be dissapointed though, if a doctor 'actively' misinformed/skirted the issue if directly asked the question by a patient. However, also bear in mind that the doctors duty of care is not to the patients family and friends, but to the patient themselves - data protection and patient confidentiality well as protecting a patients privacy and dignity are the key factors.
I've copied over the GMCs 'Duties of a Doctor' - the modern hypocratic oath I guess...
The duties of a doctor registered with the General Medical Council
Patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and well-being. To justify that trust, we as a profession have a duty to maintain a good standard of practice and care and to show respect for human life. In particular as a doctor you must:
- make the care of your patient your first concern;
- treat every patient politely and considerately;
- respect patients' dignity and privacy;
l- isten to patients and respect their views;
- give patients information in a way they can understand;
- respect the rights of patients to be fully involved in decisions about their
- keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date;
- recognise the limits of your professional competence;
- be honest and trustworthy;
- respect and protect confidential information;
- make sure that your personal beliefs do not prejudice your patients' care;
- act quickly to protect patients from risk if you have good reason to believe
that you or a colleague may not be fit to practise;
- avoid abusing your position as a doctor; and
- work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests.
In all these matters you must never discriminate unfairly against your patients or colleagues. And you must always be prepared to justify your actions to them.