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Surprising Science

Better Doctor-Patient Communication

New technology could help doctors communicate better to patients what the alternatives or the risks and benefits are of the test or treatment the patient is about to undergo.

Could technology help doctors better communicate with patients the risks and alternatives to a given medical procedure? “On the way into surgery or some test or treatment, a nurse or technician slips the patient a clipboard of legalese to sign. In most cases, that piece of paper is either a vague permission slip acknowledging that the patient has been ‘informed’ about the procedure, or it reads like a legal waiver—a laundry list of every single side effect and rare complication that could possibly go wrong. These badly written, hastily signed forms are meaningless or worse, health literacy experts say.”


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