Website aims to help doctors treat patients towards the end of life

The GMC has updated its Good Medical Practice in Action website with a brand new set of scenarios targeting the ethical dilemmas that doctors find the most trickiest to deal with.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, one of the UK’s best-known GPs has helped us create realistic medical and ethical online scenarios by providing advice on how doctors should use GMC guidance to deal with these complex dilemmas.

Two of the case studies contain scenarios which aim to help doctors and patients understand better the new GMC guidance on end of life care, which came into effect on 1 July. These look at difficult issues such as talking to a dying patient about whether to attempt CPR; what to do when there is a dispute between relatives regarding the care their father should receive; and the steps to take if a doctor has a conscientious objection to withdrawing treatment.

Good Medical Practice in Action launched with just twelve scenarios in 2008. Two years later and it has grown to accommodate 60 scenarios and has received over 40,000 visits from doctors, medical students and members of the public.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, a London GP who regularly gives expert advice on BBC Breakfast and who lends her voice to the case notes section of Good Medical Practice in Action, said: “I am delighted to be part of Good Medical Practice in Action as it is so widely used and respected. Not only is it a great learning tool for doctors to familiarise themselves with GMC guidance in real-life situations, it also provides patients with an insight into often complex dilemmas that doctors face.”

Ros Levenson, a GMC Council member and Chair of the Standards and Ethics Reference Group, said: “Doctors have told us that Good Medical Practice in Action helps them to understand our guidance, and is particularly useful when new guidance is launched, such as our end of life care guidance which has just come into force.  We would encourage both doctors and patients to explore the brand new scenarios that have been added to the site.”

Good Medical Practice in Action asks doctors to consider what action to take in the following scenarios:

  • Mrs Conti, who is 80, has been diagnosed with heart failure. She has come to see you to discuss her options for treatment but is afraid of surgery, which you strongly believe to be the best option for her condition. Do you refer your patient to a cardiac surgeon despite her reluctance?
  • Adrian has come to see you to get some test results.  You also treat Adrian’s partner, Maria, at the clinic. Maria attended the clinic last week when you confirmed her suspicion that she is HIV positive. Adrian is keen to start trying for a baby with Maria. Do you tell Adrian that Maria is HIV Positive?
  • You are explaining the severity of Mr Hartley’s condition to his daughter, Clementine. She wants everything done to keep her 76-year-old father alive. However, you received a phone call from Mr Hartley’s son, Robert, who has a different view. What should you do, given that Mr Hartley is no longer able to make decisions for himself?

Dr Kausik Maulik who recently visited Good Medical Practice in Action, said: “Good Medical Practice in Action is such an informative tool to use as I am able to put myself in the patients’ shoes. The tutorials reinforce the importance to maintain confidentiality and I now feel better equipped to sympathetically respond to patients’ worries whilst also providing them with the highest standard of care.”

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Website aims to help doctors treat patients towards the end of life
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