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Don't accept half truths from your doctor, demand full information

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 Do not accept half truths from medical practitioners Photo: Courtesy

An acquaintance of mine recently needed to go through some complex medical intervention.

It was a painful process, but thankfully, all went well, or so it seemed.

At the point of discharge, her care team were all smiles, with good news of having successfully dealt with the offending disease. She was told there were no tell-tale signs of residual ailment, and could therefore expect full recovery. Unfortunately, it was a crafted message of half-truths. She didn’t fare very well subsequently, a repeat operation became necessary shortly thereafter.

Well, you can debate about how much you want to know about your own illnesses. Would you rather know everything, or just bits and pieces to carry you through each day? You only can make that call. But you are entitled to full information about whatever you are suffering from. Your doctor has no right to withhold any information from you, unless you say so upfront. You see, you can only make informed choices if you are armed with all the facts.

You are the custodian of your own health. You make all health-related decisions for yourself. The caveat is being of sound mind, and having attained a legal age. Any judgment about your capacity to deal with bad medical news cannot be made lightly. The default position must always be to provide you with as much information as possible, anything withheld from you must stand the rigour of objective scrutiny.

So why was my acquaintance fed filtered information about her health? She sought some redress and was given some laughable explanation, more coloured truths I guess. She wasn’t deemed capable of absorbing all the implications. Everything was going to become apparent in the course of time, and before she was in the know, she might have been dead anyway. Her next of kin had been fully briefed though, but she hadn’t even given consent for such a disclosure. What a farce! She ended up with some compensation, but that wasn’t going to cure her dented confidence in medics.

How do you get everything from your doctor? For starters, it’s your right, to ask and ask again. Requesting a copy of your medical records may also give you some insights. Don’t allow anyone else to be detailed about your medical condition without your consent. Third parties have no right to know. If you suspect some information is being withheld, please say so. Or demand to be briefed by another member of the care team, or one of their superiors.

Open communication must always be maintained between you and your doctor. When every bit of information is availed, decisions are easier to make. You feel much better when you are fully involved and informed about your own care.

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