Kochi: Conflicts between patients and doctors need to be put an end, if effective treatment is to be rendered to patients. Keeping in mind the growing conflicts between patients and doctors developing in medical practice, the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) is planning to introduce an effective communication skills programme for doctors, to improve the future situation. The programme will become a part of the curriculum of the MBBS Programme.
“We plan to teach communication skills to all MBBS students before internship, as part of curriculum. What is happening now is that though treatment is perfect, problem starts when there is no proper communication. Properly communicating the treatment course to the patient and family is part of the treatment process. Often doctors tend to ignore it stating that they are overloaded,” said Dr K Mohanan, Member, KUHS Governing Council.
As part of the training program, students will be trained in medical ethics and basics in palliative care, before the beginning of their internships. Effective communication is to be a main part of the training. Doctors undergoing the training are to be taught skills of effective communication with the patient/relatives, in order to be able to effectively convey to him/her/them the condition, type of treatment, alternative strategies to be employed, alternate methods of treatment available and resultant complications, if any, arising from them. The training will also impart the manner in which the medical practitioner is to convey a bad news to the patient or its relatives.
The Indian Medical Association, Kerala State Branch had been pursuing this at the curriculum level with the KUHS, and has now expressed satisfaction over what has been given to them in the form of revised curriculum, on effective communication. The Kerala IMA is of the opinion that the program on medical ethics and communication skills is a medical essential.
“Medicine is a complex scientific area.Doctors may have knowledge of their subject but understanding a patient’s needs is not a skill every doctor has. It needs to be cultivated in each MBBS student early so that they ensure that each patient is educated about his treatment plan and not scared of treatment. Proper communication skills are essential to ensure this,” said Dr Jayakrishnan, AV IMA, State President.
“Doctors have a hectic schedule, but they need to understand and communicate with patients in a humane manner to avoid conflict,” said Dr Madhu V, State President, Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association.
It has been observed with no formal training being imparted to doctors on effective communication with patients, most of them are acquiring the said skill on the job.