Talking to the Doctor about your loved ones in hospital
Some useful information when talking to Doctors about your loved ones in hospital
by Dr Brighton Chireka, GP
Having a loved one critically ill admitted in a hospital can be stressful. The COVID-19 pandemic is making it worse as most people cannot visit their loved ones in hospital.
What can you do as a family? Try the “P-R-I-C-E” Strategy
P- PREPARE yourselves as a family.
- You need to designate one person or two who will be the point of contact with the doctors. The person must ideally be someone who is level headed, assertive but patient and slow to anger.
- You need to know the lead doctor and nurse looking after your loved one.
- Agree on how often you will get updates about the condition of your loved one. At least a daily update should help to keep the family updated.
- You need to agree on the communication media that you will be using such as telephone, email or video calling.
- Do not allow everyone to contact the doctors as they will not be given any information due to confidentiality issues. Failure of these people to get information may cause panic and unnecessary tension with the doctors and nurses.
- Make sure you have fully prepared for your daily updates with the doctors. The family representative must consult with close family members before meeting with the doctors.
R-REMEMBER to be assertive
- Ask all questions that you have as a family .
- There are no silly or dump questions. Make sure that you recall all the issues that the family has with regard the care of your loved one.
- Remember that you are representing your family and you are meeting or communicating with the doctors to clarify things and get an update on how your loved one is doing.
I- IDEAS share them
- You must tell the doctors the ideas you have or your family has about the condition or care of your loved one.
- Again do not hesitate to discuss these ideas no matter how silly they may sound.
- You may not be medically trained so be as silly as you can in talking about your ideas about the illness
C-CONCERNS – raise them
- You must raise concerns you may have as a family.
- Do not rush to complain but do not be shy to raise concerns about the care your loved one is getting.
- Discuss your worries with the doctors such as the likelihood of your loved one dying or getting complications
E- Expectations discuss them
- You must mention your expectations as a family.
- Do not be afraid or shy to discuss these expectations with doctors. You are not telling the doctors what to do but you are mentioning your wishes and
expectations as a family.
- If you expect your loved one to have organ transplant , oxygen , undergo surgery ,have an MRI scan , be put on ventilator or recruited in a study trial ,
you must discuss this with the doctors.
- The doctors should be happy to explain their treatment plans and why some interventions may not be appropriate.
In the unlikely event of misunderstanding or breakdown of Doctor-Relative relationship make sure that the welfare of your loved one is secured. You may need to find a new
person to represent the family or you may need to find a new doctor to look after your loved one. I hope you find this useful. Kindly share, copy and paste. Feel free to add
more suggestions that will empower relatives and remember PRICE!