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Understanding my treatment and getting a second opinion

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Before you’re given any treatment, your doctor should give you the information you need to make a decision in a way that you understand.

What information should I be given about my treatment?

Your doctor should give you all the information you need to make a decision about the treatment. They should explain to you in clear language what your diagnosis means and what your treatment options are. This includes explaining any medical terms. They should also give you the pros and cons of each treatment, including any potential risks and side effects.

Your doctor can recommend a treatment to you but shouldn’t pressure you to accept it.

Your doctor isn’t allowed to withhold any information from you unless they think giving you the information would cause you serious harm. This applies even if a family member or someone else close to you asks them to withhold information.

If your doctor does withhold information from you, they should record the reasons why they’ve done this in your medical notes.

You may not want to be given all of the information at once. It’s ok to let your doctor know how much information you want, and to tell them if you want to go over something again.

What if I don’t understand what the doctor has told me?

If you don’t understand something your doctor has said, they should repeat it or try to explain it in a different way. They should also answer any questions that you have about your condition or treatment, sensitively and honestly. You should be given time, information and support to make your decision.

What if I don’t want to know?

If you don’t want to know the details of your condition or treatment, your doctor should still give you the information that you’ll need to make a decision about whether to give consent.

If you don’t want any treatment, your doctor should explain the consequences of you not having it. You can change your mind and ask for more information at any time.

What if I disagree with my doctor?

If you’re not satisfied with your doctor’s advice you can ask for a second opinion but you don’t have the legal right to be given one. If you’d like a second opinion you should speak to your doctor.