What Would You Like Me To Do?
There is a worrying trend Doctors are using. They are starting to ask patients “What Would You Like Me To Do?”. It is considered by the NHS to be including the patient in the decision making process. Yet really they are just asking the patient what they want and then doing it with frightening consequences.
A doctor is supposed to listen and examine the evidence before considering and communicating a diagnosis. Treatment options are to be set out from ‘do nothing’ to conservative options. Surgery options from minor to more radical. Each treatment option should have the benefits and risks set out for the patient to make an informed decision. That takes time and effort.
The default therefore, which we are seeing more and more, is that the patient is listened to and then asked What Would You Like Me To Do? This is without any benefit or risks of the options being set out for them in order to know what the options actually are and to then make an informed choice. Patients do not have years of medical training. It is the right question to ask only AFTER all of the options are explained.
What is the problem?
We are finding the question is being asked without any thought or consultation. We often see patients records saying “patient requested…………….treatment”. That can only take place after full consideration of the options presented. To nuance the dialogue as the patient’s choice before a discussion of risks has taken place is misleading and disingenuous. The exchange of information between doctor and patient is essential to good decision making. Serious harm can result if patients are not listened to, or if they are not given the information they need – and time and support to understand it – so they can make informed decisions about their care.