Communicating with Patients and their Relatives
Keep the following points in mind when communicating with patients and their relatives:
- Adequate explanation of any procedure or test must be given to patients, especially if it is likely to cause discomfort or after-effects, e.g., angiography. Failure to do so could lead to disciplinary or legal action against a doctor if an allegation is made that a procedure was performed without informed consent.
- You must be available to speak to relatives at an arranged time, unless prevented by your other duties.
- When relatives of a seriously ill patient ask to speak with a doctor, make every effort to see them, especially when the relatives have been sent for by hospital staff or the consultant in charge.
- When relatives ask to discuss something with a senior member of the hospital staff, or raise questions which you cannot answer, you must refer the matter to a more senior member of staff.
- After the death of a patient, it is important that you meet with the relatives. Before doing so, check with your SMO to see if a post-mortem needs to be requested.
- A request for post mortem examination must first be discussed with the deceased patient’s consultant or duty SMO. The general practitioner should also be informed. Requests for post mortem examination should be made before the relatives leave the hospital.
- A brief report on the post-mortem can be given to relatives if they would like one. This does not apply to post-mortems undertaken for the Coroner.
Telephone Advice to Patients
You must record all significant advice received over the telephone, and the source of that advice, in writing in the patient's Clinical Record.
Note: If the Clinical Record is not readily available at the time, either use the Health Advice by Telephone form (Ref C000841) that is available in all wards, or your personal notebook. You must transfer the information to the Clinical Record as soon as possible.
If you would like to speak to someone for a Maori perspective on an issue, contact:
Executive Director, Maori and Pacific Health
Mobile 027 434 1211
Each CDHB Division has a Maori Advisor whom you can contact through the hospital’s telephone operator.
There is a team of chaplains - Roman Catholic, Maori, and Ecumenical (all faiths) - available at Christchurch Public Hospital, Christchurch Women’s Hospital, The Princess Margaret Hospital (TMPH), Burwood and Hillmorton.
The chaplains are available Monday to Friday on site within the hospitals and on call for emergency after hours by contacting the operator. Chaplains provide a physical presence, spiritual support and pastoral care for patients and their families, and also staff.
Non New Zealand Residents - Eligibility for Publicly-Funded Healthcare
- New Zealand has a world leading health system which makes most services available free (or subsidised) to people who meet the eligibility criteria.
- Some people in New Zealand don’t qualify to have these services paid for by the New Zealand Government and are required to pay for their healthcare.
- Most commonly, these are visitors (visitor visas), students (student visas), people with short term work visas (less than 2 years) and those who are not holding a current valid visa. UK residents and Australians are generally covered under the reciprocal health agreements for immediately necessary healthcare.
- The Ministry of Health has an Eligibility Checklist which we use at the CDHB. For more information, see the “Guide to Eligibility Criteria” on the Ministry of Health website at www.moh.govt.nz/eligibility.
- Any patient who is admitted is required to be fully informed of the requirement to pay so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare. This should happen upon admission.
- It is important for you to be aware of the requirement to pay as it may influence the level of healthcare provided to a patient before the patient returns home to get the rest of the treatment they require.
- Please note that this will never impact on any decision on the provision of acute or essential care.
- CDHB has an eligibility team who visits all inpatients in the morning following admission (on weekdays) to ensure the patient is fully informed.
- If you need to discuss the options available for a patient or want to know the cost of healthcare, please contact Andrew Meier, Revenue Accountant on 80556 or 027 703 1928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The eligibility team can assist with any staff or patient enquiries. If you have any queries, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or phone 364-0957.
Topic Code: 10799