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

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (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':

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 @MikeStone2_EoL

Competing interests: No competing interests

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