Compassionate Caring: Dr Roop Gursahani’s Opinion

“Death is a part of life….we must add life to days, not days to life” 

When informing a patient about an illness, doctors are expected to be honest, accurate and optimistic. This can be a tough combination, so conveying bad news in a systematic and sensitive way is crucial to avoid wrong expectations from the patient. Openness is something Dr Roop firmly believes in.  He insists that his patients must always be told the truth of their disease/illness in a sensitive manner. Therefore, doctors must learn to engage emotionally and yet withdraw, a skill not taught in medical school unfortunately.

He reiterates the importance of counseling and counselors. Counselors can be brought in right at the start to deliver bad news, when doctors are unable to, and they can have an equally important part to play towards the end of one’s life to help them die with dignity and help their caregivers cope with bereavement and move on.

Dr Roop is encouraging palliative care and believes it must be incorporated in medical school/training as well, an initiative that needs to come from the medical council and government. Palliative care includes both patients and caregivers.  Caregivers are an integral part of healthcare and hospitals need to empower them too.

In Indian society we tend to ignore the conversation about death.  Each individual has their own view on death and the patient’s wishes must be respected. Some may not want any treatment or pain, some may want to try everything to live. These are concerns that need to be addressed in advance at the right time, with the right amount of information and decisions need to be made. Death is a part of life, and healthcare professionals as well as family caregivers must ensure it is done right.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.  

As a healthcare professional, sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system at large. You can help bring back care into healthcare for the patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team.

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