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Full disclosure

During the antenatal period of my last pregnancy, I developed multiple complex medical conditions on top of my long list of co-morbidities. As the pregnancy unfolds, it gradually became tougher. It became a very complicated and tumultuous pregnancy, riddled with uncertainties at the turn of every trimester. But, my doctors did a wonderful job at making sure I stay pregnant and reach term unscathed. And what they did were nothing short of inspirational.

However, at the very end of the pregnancy, a turn of events occurred that nearly jeopardised all their hard work. I have to admit that it wasn’t the doctors’ fault. It was entirely mine. I (the patient) had forgotten to disclose an important part of my medical history which might have changed the course of my pregnancy had the doctors not intervened just in time. When I thought about it in hindsight, I realise how it had easily been missed.

This is becoming all too common in hospitals and clinics, often leading to undesirable outcomes. We (patients) often unintentionally forget to tell the whole truth for some reason or other. We may be pre-occupied with other distracting aspects of our lives or we may simply think that a particular part in our long medical history is pale in comparison to what is at hand, perhaps even unimportant. Others may purposely remain tight-lipped about certain key information due to its sensitive nature.

This (non-disclosure) is becoming all too common in hospitals and clinics, often leading to undesirable outcomes.

Whatever your rationale may be, it is important to understand that full disclosure is crucial for reasons that you (as a patient) may or may not have been aware of. It will affect your patient experience, whether you realise it or not.

Altering Care Plan & Course of Illness

The course of action that doctors decide to take, hinges on the clinical picture that patients had painted for them. It is essential for patients to offer all relevant medical information in order to help doctors make the correct clinical decisions. If any of the information given were less than accurate or excluded, the doctors may take a different direction. So, instead of choosing one care plan, they might settle on another. Naturally, that will alter the course of patients’ illness.

You Are Risking Your Life

Non-disclosure of medical history is at its worst, a risk. We all know that taking risks in the healthcare setting means taking chances at lives. Nobody wants that. Excluding details about current medications may put you at risk of adverse drug reactions, while being unforthcoming about your allergies may lead to severe allergic reactions. Those reactions are preventable, provided that your healthcare providers are offered the information.

Patients’ Responsibility

Most hospitals and clinics in Malaysia now displays the “Patients’ Rights & Responsibility” charter in places that are clearly visible. Here is an online version of it from Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare for you to check out. Patients have rights that they can expect to be fulfilled by healthcare providers, while they are also expected to fulfil their responsibilities as patients. One of the patients’ responsibility, among others, is to disclose full and accurate health information.

So, the next time you have an appointment with your doctor, don’t forget to fully disclose your medical history. I sure hope it’ll change your patient experience for the better.

Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

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