Friday, September 5, 2014

New times demand new skills

Doctors ....... struggle to find the time—or lack the skill or motivation—to listen to patients, elicit essential information from them, and fully understand what matters to them.
Patients and their families are often frustrated by this. Most “get” that there are constraints under which doctors and public health systems work. But when the stakes are high, they will—and surely have the right to—seek other options in or outside their own country, and to expect their doctors to listen and discuss their findings and viewpoints sensitively, however well or ill informed they may be.
Tessa Richards
Senior Editor, British Medical Journal
 Dr Richards' complete post is definitely worth a read and rings all sorts of bells with me, given my mixed experiences with the NHS over the years and my now regular online searches for information on own health issues.  Like most of the country I have been following the sad and worrying Ashya King controversy where it would seem the boy's father's searches on the internet for information on the best post-operative treatment for his small son's cancerous brain tumour brought him into a breakdown of communcation with the doctors.  He fled the country with his family in order to access the treatment for his son he wanted in the Czech Republic, fearing that the hospital would invoke an emergency protection order taking away his control over the boy's treatment.
Ashya King’s father scoured the internet and challenged the Southampton doctors’ decisions. It’s a scenario that health professionals have got to get used to. Information is being democratised, and suggesting patients should not access it on the grounds that it may mislead them is absurd. The new reality for doctors, as the jargon puts it, is to “act as guide, not God,” and to avoid branding patients who do their own research as difficult..............
Ashya King’s case raises many questions. Among them, what price should impeccable professional credentials command if a doctor can’t win the trust of patients and their families, and agree a way forward? New times demand new skills.

1 comment:

Jenny Woolf said...

Seems to me there is something odd about the King story. As you say it sounds like extraordinarily bad communication between parents and hospital. I haven't heard every side of the story. It is obvious that any parent understandably will want to do all they can for their child. But if a patient's chances of survival are negligible, perhaps the NHS will not fund super expensive treatment in every case. Emotions could get totally out of hand. What a terribly sad case. And handled in a ham fisted way.