Views And Reviews Acute Perspective

David Oliver: How much information should patients’ families expect on acute wards?

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4295 (Published 11 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4295

'Ask the patient' seems to be missing Re: David Oliver: How much information should patients’ families expect on acute wards?

Professor Oliver seems to have neglected - perhaps because of brevity, or because of an implication of 'on acute wards', but I'm not sure - a rather obvious point about this: unless for some reason the patient is not capable of telling the visitor 'what is happening', the visitor should start by asking the patient.

I have written about this, in the context of a case when very clearly 'communication with the family was awful':

https://www.dignityincare.org.uk/Discuss-and-debate/Dignity-Champions-fo...

As I wrote in my piece:

Putting this simply, if a patient has reached a stage when the patient cannot communicate with either clinicians or with relatives, it is perfectly legitimate (and, there is some legal backing for the idea that family/friends are expected to be questioning professionals in this situation, as part of a 'checks and balances' system) for the family to ask nurses and doctors 'What is going on - what is being done to my dad ?': and the clinicians should be answering those questions, and properly engaging with family and friends.

The simple rule of thumb, probably, is that if a wife could be asked by her husband 'What have they been doing today, then ?', then the husband should be asking the wife: but if the wife has lapsed into a coma, or for other reasons could not answer herself, then it is perfectly reasonable for the husband to put the question to the doctors and nurses, and to expect answers.

Mike Stone mhsatstokelib@yahoo.co.uk @MikeStone2_EoL

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 October 2017
Michael H Stone
Retired Non Clinical
None Private Individual
Coventry CV2 4HN