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Do physicians on the critical care team explain the treatment?

Tamla Wells
Critical Care Nursing

Doctors should explain the treatment plan to the patient and/or patient’s family. One of the fundamental rights of all patients is the right to be involved in their treatment plan. Patients also have the right to accept or refuse any treatment. Therefore, patients and patient’s family members need to be proactive while in the hospital and ask questions. As a nurse, I try to facilitate dialogue between the doctors, patient, and patient’s family to keep everyone informed of the treatment plan.  

Julia Vicente, MSN
Critical Care Nursing

Ideally, yes. Every healthcare institution has its own way of doing business. In some critical care units there is a protocol for giving information. This could be done with making rounds, special family meetings and so on. As far as treatments, consents, and prognoses, the health care provider is responsible to explain medical treatments, side effects, and obtain consents for treatmente and procedures.

As far as routine information, physicians either speak with families and patients briefly and give updates, sometimes regularly and sometimes not. Critical care nurses are usually the members of the critical care team that patients and families will see in many units. They are well-equipped to reinforce what the physician(s) have explained. Critical care nurses can also initiate dialogue and education with families and patients on a wide range of topics as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.