Medical Professionals and Honesty

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Contrary to what many physicians have thought in the past, a number of studies have demonstrated that patients do want their physicians to tell them the truth about diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy. For instance, 90% of patients surveyed said they would want to be told of a diagnosis of cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Similarly, a number of studies of physician attitudes reveal support for truthful disclosure. For example, whereas in 1961 only 10% of physicians surveyed believed it was correct to tell a patient of a fatal cancer diagnosis, by 1979 97% felt that such disclosure was correct. A specific culture should not change the situation in any medical view. Patients no matter what their background deserve the truth in knowing and understanding their physical health. Most patients rely on physicians to provide medical health information, especially when they know that something is not right. Every patient deserves a chance to utilize the knowledge of their illness in their own way despite their cultures and beliefs. In addition to fostering trust and demonstrating respect, giving patients truthful information helps them to become informed participants in important health care decisions. Thus, patients should be told all relevant aspects of their illness, including the nature of the illness itself, expected outcomes with a reasonable range of treatment alternatives, risks and benefits of treatment, and other information deemed relevant to that patient's personal values and needs. Treatment alternatives that are not medically indicated or appropriate need not be revealed. Facts that are not important to the patients ability to be an informed participant in decision making, such as results of specific lab tests, need not be told to the patient. Also, complete and truthful disclosure need not be brutal; appropriate sensitivity to the patient's ability to digest complicated or bad news is important. Therefore, patients of any culture may reason their modes of...
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