Should patients be always told the unequivocal truth when receiving a terminal diagnosis?

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I believe the truth will set you free. It is always better to speak the truth. In a situation where a diagnosis is a matter of life and death, the truth should come first. The consequences of a wrong or altered diagnosis could change the caution measurements are taken, treatment and care plan given to the patient. It can also change the course of the lives of entire families, and as such affect many people negatively. The goal should be to always tell the truth and to do so gently. Not in a dramatic fashion to shock patients and their families. Neither in a cruel manner without care of how the patient will receive the news.

The diagnosis should also be delivered by the doctor handling the patient. Not a nurse or junior doctor, but instead the person who discovered the illness and made the diagnosis. They are the ones in the best position to explain the treatment needed and next steps. This is in terms of medication to be taken, diet and follow up medical procedures necessary. A bad diagnosis can also come together with good news to avoid depression. For example, a treatment that alleviates pain, and care that can make them comfortable. Also advise on how to maintain a positive mindset, and how it affects your wellbeing.

As a doctor, one can also give advice on the best care facilities to visit, nursing homes and even home nursing services that they may be interested in. It is always good to deliver bad news in a humane way. It is not only the right thing to do, but it also avoids increasing the pain of the family. As well as additional mental and emotional fatigue and stress. It is also good to note that an inaccurate or ‘white lie’ diagnosis that does not reveal the whole truth can lead to legal action. Families can sue for emotional distress and other inconveniences, including medical expenses and other grievances experienced due to a masked diagnosis.

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It is also recommended that the patients are counseled before receiving a diagnosis if there is suspicion of being terminally ill. It is important to assist them to become mentally prepared to receive their diagnosis and to remain in a stable condition despite the diagnosis they receive. This is why counselors are available beforehand. And sometimes doctors recommend therapy with a psychologist to ensure stable mental health. Terminal patients often consider suicide after receiving bad news. It is not uncommon for a sick patient to overdose or tries to commit suicide in one way or another.

This is why it is also highly recommended that the loved ones of patients keep them company and distracted from the negative aspects of their ailing health. Companionship at this time is highly encouraged. It is always good for a patient to feel the love and support of family. It helps them to keep a positive attitude and a mindset focused on their well-being. Which is not only from their physical health but also for their own mental and spiritual health. Emotional stability at such a time is essential and that is why terminally ill patients need the support of their loved ones. It is clear from this article that my stand lies with telling the whole unequivocal truth.