Recently, in practice, I was faced with a situation that truly tested me.
During my community placement I had seen patients with a wide variety of different conditions and social situations, but one in particular presented quite a dilemma for me.
I visited an older woman who had a number of medical problems - one of which being heart failure. The only problem being she wasn’t aware of her condition.
Apparently, the family did not want her to know and the team were “respecting their wishes”.
The whole dynamic left me a little shaken.
I had got on well with the patient and found her to be a really pleasant. She spoke of her fear of falling and how she thought she was getting better because she was managing to do occasional leg exercises.
I felt guilty at the knowledge I had and wondered how she would be treated for her heart failure without her knowledge.
As a student I have had lectures on hypothetical situations very similar to this.
We were told that our duty is first and foremost to the patient. Unless there was any compelling reason why telling the patient about their own condition would be detrimental then, by all means, the patient should always be well-informed.
How would you feel about this dilemma? Where does the line lie between respecting the patient’s and the relative’s wishes?