What happens when the doctor denies a patient’s request?

The price for denying a patient’s request may be high, and GPs find themselves uncomfortable in such encounters.

Arms holding a no
Illustrasjon: pixabay.com

The researchers conducted a qualitative study with semi-structured individual interviews with six GPs in Norway. They asked them to tell about experiences from specific encounters where they had refused a patient’s request.

Subjects of dispute included clinical topics like investigation and treatment, certification regarding welfare benefits and medico-legal issues, and administrative matters.

The arguments took different paths, sometimes settled by reaching common ground but more often as unresolved disagreement with anger or irritation from the patient, sometimes with open hostility and violence.

The aftermath and outcomes of these disputes lead to strong emotional impact where the doctors reflected upon the incidents and sometimes regretted their handling of the consultation. Some long-standing and close patient–doctor relationships were injured or came to an end.

Skills pertaining to this particular challenge could be improved though education and training, drawing attention to negotiation of potential conflicts, the authors conclude. Also, the notion that doctors have a professional commitment to his or her own autonomy and to society should be restored, through increased emphasis on core professional ethics in medical education at all levels.

The study is published in Scandinavian Journal of Primary Healthcare.


Aug. 9, 2017, 1:49 p.m.

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cp: 2019-11-20 14:16:29