Rhetoric1302-007

February 5, 2010

Withholding Information From Patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — toryjohnson30 @ 4:52 am

While reading an article from the New England Journal of Medicine (http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/362/5/380) I ran across an idea that I hadn’t thought about before. Iv’e been to the doctor quite often in my life and I haven’t considered that a doctor might withhold information from me. I completely agree with this article in regards to keeping information that may cause more problems to a patient than a solution. It makes many points such as giving some information may lead to unnecessary distress or make decision making a more difficult process than it should be. But, I can see this leading to potential problems as it relates to health care providers. As a doctor, how do you really know if a patient really doesn’t want to know the information? Even though the patient may not ask you for all the information is it your job to tell them? These are questions that many doctors have to ask themselves after diagnosing patients and setting up plans of treatment. I trust in doctors to make the correct decision as they should know whats best for a patient.

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3 Comments »

  1. I think it’s best that doctors honestly tell their patients what they know, even if it might be something minor. I don’t think it’s good that doctors should withhold information, especially if by sharing the information might actually help the patient in the long run. Sure, sometimes it’s okay to withhold information for a short while, but eventually doctors would have to tell the patient in the end, and sometimes it could be too late.

    Comment by softblubber — February 5, 2010 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  2. Another question that arises in my mind when is read this article is what information is too trivial not to tell. For instance, is it considered withholding information if when I go to the doctor complaining of a headache the doctor doesn’t tell me there is a slight chance I could have a deadly brain tumor and only two weeks to live. Of course there are much more likely causes to the headache, but where does the doctor have to draw the line between important and trivial. If it is the 1 in 500,000 chance that I did have a deadly tumor, is he responsible for not checking that first? It is a very interesting article, thanks for bring it up.

    Comment by taddaniels — February 5, 2010 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  3. I agree with the poster in that the doctor would be able to make the correct decision in whether or not to give you information. After all, they went to school for 8 years for it right?

    Comment by mokjay — February 5, 2010 @ 5:36 pm | Reply


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