June 15, 2016 – Confusion in the ICU


Anchor lead:  How well do doctors and those who are making decisions for loved ones in the ICU communicate? Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you’re making medical decisions for a loved one in the ICU, it’s critical that you understand what doctors are telling you, yet errors are common.  Now a new study suggests that such errors may be the result of misunderstandings about the patient’s prognosis as well as beliefs on the part of decision makers.  Alison Turnbull, assistant professor of critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins, says asking one question can help.

Turnbull: I think it’s really helpful when families ask directly, what do you think is most likely to happen? Cause when you ask it that way you make it clear that you know the doctor doesn’t have a crystal ball, they can’t know for sure, and you also make it clear that you want the best information possible. The second thing is I think families should talk about what else is going on for them that might lead them to believe differently from the doctor.   :25

Turnbull says really clear, open communication and questions can assure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to critical decisions.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.