Margaret McCartney: The power of patients’ storiesBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4259 (Published 10 August 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4259
All rapid responses
Stories are powerful, and I am 'interested in end-of-life' [as Dr McCartney seems to be]. I always like to see 'the raw data' which would be the unedited version of a story, but you hardly ever see the original: that is a fundamental problem, because although I support confidentiality as a principle, it is very difficult to 'impartially see what is in front of you' during end-of-life. What you 'see', seems to be heavily influenced by your own 'role and background' - it is very much the story of the blindfolded men, feeling different parts of the elephant.
I was contacted by a person who can only be described as 'distraught' (although the right word probably eludes me) in connection with her father's death (see ref 1). What 'she saw happening' was a deliberate attempt to kill her father at worst, or a heartless failure to properly care for him at best, so far as I can gather: I'm not suggesting that is what was happening, but in the absence of decent communication with the family, it is obvious that moving a dying patient to a single room can be seen as 'hiding him away' instead of as 'providing privacy'. It is really easy, for two people to be looking at the same thing, and yet to each 'see things completely differently'.
While we only read one side of stories - the side clinicians see, or the side the laymen see - we are getting an incomplete, not an anonymised, version of events,
Mike Stone firstname.lastname@example.org
Competing interests: No competing interests