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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 21 July 2009

Dr Mark Porter explores how to improve communication between the medical profession and patients.

There are always times when a diagnosis is bad news or a treatment has failed. Some doctors have an excellent bedside manner and can talk about the worst with compassion, but there are many who don't naturally have that skill. Mark Porter joins cancer specialist Dr Pauline Leonard as she runs a course for other cancer doctors to train them to give bad news in a more caring way. He finds out if doing role play with actors can change senior specialists' approaches to patients.

The experience of being in hospital and undergoing lots of procedures can be daunting for anyone, but particularly for children. They may not understand what the doctors and nurses are telling them. The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London is giving each child who is having an operation an age-appropriate DVD that explains what is going to happen to them. The youngest children receive a cartoon and the older ones are given a film presented by other children who have been through the operation in question. Mark talks to the children and the paediatric medical teams to see if the scheme is working.

And what happens when patients or their families don't understand English well? Mark sits in on a consultation with an advocate who has to translate both the language and the medical terms.



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