Should Documentation feature in the GMC’s ‘What to expect from your Doctor” document?

GMC publishes first guide for patients on what to expect from their doctor

I’m scratching my head trying to understand what’s going to be achieved by this new guidance document for Patients from the GMC.

When you appreciate that there are clinically validated tools that can provide a Doctor with a good understanding of what to expect of their Patient (before the consultation room door is ever opened) and provide the Patient with a fully documented Consultation experience (a report that outlines the information you’ve shared with your Doctor and the advice and action plan they’ve given to you) wouldn’t documentation of the consultation itself be more in line with GMC efforts to empower Patients?

Instead of guiding Patients as to what they can expect wouldn’t it be better to focus on providing them with a document that details what was said and shared?

The guide claims to have been designed to reflect “the ambition of the recent inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust which called for patients to be put at the heart of healthcare” but unless I’m very mistaken it seems obvious that the whole reason that this was investigated was not because Patients were vocal about the treatment that they had been receiving but because basic documentation showed that there were particularly high mortality rates amongst patients who had been admitted via A&E.

Of course the poor quality of this documentation meant that it took years to even begin to work out IF this was happening before they could even begin to start asking why but if every Patient admitted to that Hospital Trust had been automatically provided with a fully documented care experience I fail to see how this would’ve come to light much quicker.

Providing Patients with a guidance document outlining what they can expect wouldn’t have made any difference except perhaps for increasing the number of GMC complaints into Doctors. But it’s unlikely that the Hospital would’ve had trouble brushing these off or burying them in complex legalese (eg. there aren’t elevated mortality figures there’s just coding contentions) like they managed to do with the £13M Francis Report.

Last week the BMJ published a call from Alex Lomas, a Patient who is taking a biological drug for Crohn’s disease, calling for their trial data to be published yet we still tolerate a system where most Patients leave the Doctor’s office without documentation of their information that was shared in the consultation.

Obviously I think we tolerate processes that have long expired their use by dates but do you think now would be a good time for the GMC to start advocating for documented Consultations?

About David Doherty
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