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    The importance of being honest

    Ophthalmologists need to be true both to themselves and to patients


    First patients

    Another tricky issue is revealing to patients that they will be the first to receive a new type of surgery. Although patients may not feel comfortable with being the first, you must ask yourself whether you will be transparent with them.

    Consider this conversation at Dr Karl Oppenheirs’ ‘20/20 vision surgical centre’:

    Dr Oppenheirs: “So, Mr Jones, it seems you are looking for a solution for your disabling presbyopia. I am glad to see that your far vision is perfect. Good for you, since you are a professional driver. I am in the position to offer you a brand new surgical procedure that seems to promise very useful near vision without affecting far vision.”

    “How new is it?”

    “I told you, brand new. It involves the implantation of a recently developed device. I have read the papers published during the experimentation period and no serious complications have been reported. Having said that, I cannot give you 100% assurance that you will not see any change in your far vision.”

    “How many cases have you done?”

    “None. You could be the first. You could be proud to be the first patient in your country to be operated on with this new exciting procedure. My experience with other kind of surgeries should lead my hand even with this new one.”

    Another doctor enters the room: “Karl, who are you talking to? There’s nobody here but you!”

    Dr Oppenheirs: “Noone – I was just practising. Let’s go back to work”.

    So as a final thought for the reader, will Dr Oppenheirs follow through with this honest approach with his next, first patient? Will you when faced with a similar situation?

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