According To Lipkin: Why It Is Impossible To Tell Patients The Whole Truth

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According to Lipkin, why is it usually impossible to tell patients the whole truth? According to the text, Lipkin believes it is usually impossible to tell patients the whole truth because “patients rarely know how the body functions in health and disease, but instead have inaccurate ideas of what is going on; this hampers the attempts to “tell the truth.” (160). What is Lipkin’s crucial test for determining the appropriate degree of honesty to use with patients? According to the text, “Communication between physician and the apprehensive and often confused patient is delicate and uncertain. Honesty should be evaluated not only in terms of a slavish devotion to language often misinterpreted by the patient, but also in terms of intent. The crucial question is whether the deception was intended to benefit the patient or the doctor” (161). According to this quote, this is how Lipkin’s believes a physician must evaluate the degree of honesty they will use with a patient. What does Lipkin say about the charge that doctors are too authoritarian?
Lipkin states, “the now popular complaint that doctors are too authoritarian is
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The notion lies at the base of the argument that physicians, even when they do their best, cannot tell their patients the truth. Patients (the argument goes) lack the technical background and experience of physicians, so even intelligent and educated patients are not able to understand the medical terms and concepts physicians must use to describe a patient’s condition. Physicians, if they are to communicate at all with the patient, must then switch to using terms and concepts that neither adequately nor accurately convey to the patient what is wrong with him. Thus, it is impossible for physicians to tell patients the truth”
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