Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How To Deliver A Diagnosis

Proper doctor/patient communication is essential in having a successful diagnosis and treatment choice. A recent report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute gives information to help patients to receive as much information possible during their cancer diagnosis. However, these tips are informative for physicians in any type of diagnosis as well because it can help guide medical professionals on how to give a more patient/physician dialogue.

Use Simple Language: Don't give patients completely inaccessible medical terms. They may not understand the word choices you're making, so try to explain in terms that they'll be able to relate to and also confirm that they understand what you've just said before moving on.

Give Absolute Risk Statistics: Telling a patient that the prescribed treatment will lower their risk by a certain percentage without giving a comparison does not adequately inform the patient. Instead, frame the information as a comparative, such as "The drug will lower your risk from [for example] 4 percent to 2 percent."

Inform on Possible Side Effects Both For Treatment and Without: A treatment may cause side effects, which the patient should know about, but not taking the treatment may cause side effects as well. Share both possible outcomes with your patients so that they can make a more informed choice which is best for them.

Make The Diagnosis Personal: Giving rates of possible outcomes is done in general terms. However, patients need to know how the situation will impact them personally. Take into consideration their health status and the surrounding circumstances so that you can inform them of personal risk instead of general outcome possibilities.

By helping patients become better informed about their health, it will lead to more successful outcomes in their treatment. Connect with your patients and make the journey towards treatment a joint effort instead of a generalized situation.

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