How doctors record breaking bad news in ovarian cancer
journal contributionposted on 24.08.2015, 09:43 by J. M. Kirwan, Douglas G. Tincello, T. Lavender, R. E. Kingston
Revealing the diagnosis of cancer to patients is a key event in their cancer journey. At present, there are no minimal legal recommendations for documenting such consultations. We reviewed the Hospital records of 359 patients with epithelial ovarian cancer in the Mersey Area between 1992 and 1994. We identified the following factors: age, hospital, postcode, surgeon, stage of disease and survival. These were compared to information recorded at the time of the interview such as person present, descriptive words used, prognosis, further treatment and emotional response. In 11.6%, there was no information recorded in the notes. The diagnosis was recorded in 304 (94.7%), prognosis in 66 (20.6%) and collusion with relatives in 33 (10.3%). A total of 42 separate words/phrases were identified relating to diagnosis; cancer was recorded in 60 (19.6%). Collusion was three times as common in the patients over 65 years (17.9 vs 5.7%, P=0.001). There was a reduction in the number of diagnostic words recorded in the patients over 65 years (90.3 vs 98.3%, P=0.002) and by type of surgeon (P=0.001). Information was often poorly recorded in the notes. We have shown that the quality of information varies according to patient age, surgeon and specialty.