Sunday, December 28, 2014

Language in Healthcare

A U.S. study published in 2012 found that 69% of lung-cancer patients and 81% of colorectal cancer patients surveyed were under the misconception the chemotherapy they had undergone months earlier would likely cure them.

This means that their physicians failed to explain the difference between palliative chemotherapy, which lessens tumour size, and chemotherapy designed to eradicate tumours.

When death is near, 

plain talk by doctors can lessen patients confusion and emotional pain

Instead of:
Doing badly, seriously ill, critically ill, has an uncertain prognosis
They are dying (or at risk of dying)
Instead of:
Treatments are futile or inappropriate or the patient is failing to respond
Despite our best efforts, your mother is dying; treatments are failing.
Instead of:
We recommend a switch to comfort care
Treatments are failing or have failed, but comfort will of course be maintained
Instead of:
We can do CPR
We can do chest compressions, that will likely break several ribs and cause great pain
Instead of calling it:
A do-not-resuscitate order
Call it:
Allow natural death

Dr. Stephen Workman 

  1. [PPT]Assessing Prognosis and Patient Preferences at Admission ...
    Stephen Workman ... Halifax Nova Scotia. Outline ... Delay in starting palliative care; Patients / family members may trigger the initiation of palliative care.

No comments: