Medical Ethics: Communication in the Doctor Patient Relationship.


The word ‘communication’ is derived from the Latin, ‘communis’ meaning ‘commonness’.  In essence, effective communication is the establishment of a common frame of reference between practitioner and patient i.e. ‘all on the same page‘.

At least as long ago as the writing of the Hippocratic Oath, it was well understood that physicians’ communication with their patients was an essential part of successful therapy. The relationship between a practitioner and patient should be based upon trust, which develops primarily through communication. In much of health care, accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment depend upon the patient’s truthful and complete disclosure of personal health information.

Communication is also a process involving the ‘transmitter’ and receivers.  These roles, with particular reference to the practitioner/patient relationship, are interchangeable. There are skills required as there are ethical considerations.

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