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    Penguin Specials: Dying for a Chat

    By: Dr Ranjana Srivastava

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    Medical oncologist Ranjana Srivastava contends that the best medicine begins with a good chat, to guide the decision-making of both doctors and patients. Increasingly, people are unable to properly comprehend the complex treatment choices on offer, or are self-diagnosing and demanding unnecessary or risky prodedures. Doctors, in turn, feel unable to deny the requests of patients and their families. Narrow specialisation also means no-one is discussing the overall picture of a patient's health. Srivastava warns that people are suffering - even dying - as a result, and the medical profession should be taking responsibility. In a frank and clear-eyed assessment of an unacknowledged crisis, she makes an impassioned case for healthcare training to incorporate effective communication skills.

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