10 tips for communicating risk to patients

ARCHIVED POST N.B. This post is based on the 2012 Osteopathic Practice Standards and therefore may not reflect current legislation or current Mint procedures.

Speaking to patients about risks is not always an easy conversation but it is a necessity.  Here are some tips which may help you:

  • Only tell patients what they need to know, personalise the benefits and risks you communicate to them.  Remember to speak about alternatives treatments too and having no treatment.
  • Start with the good news
  • x out of y people is a clear format people can understand
  • Percentages are often difficult for people to put into perspective
  • Try to present risk in a positive manner i.e. 1 out of 2 people don’t get any side effects from treatment
  • Record in your patient notes the information you give to patients
  • Be clear and concise
  • Allow your patient to ask questions
  • Check their understanding of what you have told them
  • Use spinal or joint models as appropriate

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