You are about to die soon, should we tell patient the truth?

It is very heavy work and a difficult task for doctors to inform their patients about all official details regarding their chronic disease which is incurable and untreatable. Al-Riyadh, an Arabic newspaper, conducted a survey with several physicians working in Saudi-Arabia to know their opinion regarding disclosing about the news of fatal conditions to their patients.

Dr. Muhammad Al-Juhani, who is working currently as an emergency medicine consultant at King Khalid University Hospital, said that most doctors give preference to be straight forward and blunt with their patients suffering from incurable diseases. 

According to Dr. Muhammad Al-Juhani, the one who is actually responsible for making decisions regarding the treatment approach is basically the patient. The main reason that the best decision is made by the patient itself is that the patient is the one who is going to suffer pain and stress during the treatment.

The patient is the one to tell the doctors in advance that if their functioning of the heart stops, then keep them on life support system or not.

Should we tell patients the truth?

Doctors should tell the condition in detail to the patients when all treatment and medication options are painful and terrifying. The biggest issue comes from the families of the affected persons who request the doctors to not reveal the truth and hide the tragic condition. Many doctors agree to such requests.

During the treatment, the most difficult task for doctors is to face patients without telling them the truth. If the patient finds out that he is suffering from cancer, the immediate step to be taken by the doctor is to suggest a psychologist who will help him in overcoming shock, stress, depression, and anxiety after knowing.

Most cancer patients who go through severe chemotherapy sessions need psychological care because they suffer from depression which makes them discouraged, hopeless or generally disinterested in life.

Counseling and concerned psychologists will have a positive impact on patient’s health.  The Assistant professor of health sciences at King Saud University, Dr. Waleed Al-Malik, quoted those incurable conditions that affected Saudis mostly chronically includes liver failure, cancer, heart and lung diseases.

It is very difficult to explain it to patients

Being a doctor, it is difficult to explain a life-threatening condition to the patient. Sometimes the patients refuse to accept the reality and travel overseas to receive better treatment. Dr. Mahdi Al-Taher, a psychiatric consultant, stated that cancer patients need medications for depression. We should support them in participating in social events to keep them busy and give hope.

Being a medical practitioner, we must believe that there is nothing wrong in revealing the truth to the concerned patient. This way the patient would be well prepared for every step.

The Head of the geriatrics department at King Abdulaziz Medical City, Dr. Hashim Balbaid, told that patients in the advanced stage of cancer usually need extra care. So the job of a specialist is to have hopeful conversations with the patients and keep them engaged in a positive approach. It helps to keep their morale high.

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Steve has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2013 and writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures since then.