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- Keywords > code of practice
- Keywords > codes of ethics
- Keywords > communication with patients
- Keywords > doctor-patient communication
- Keywords > ethical practices and standards
- Keywords > guidelines for doctor-patient interaction
- Keywords > information exchange
- Keywords > information to patients
- Keywords > patient information
(2004; 21 pages)
This document General Guidelines for Medical Practitioners on Providing Information to Patients (hereafter referred to as the General Guidelines) was originally issued in 1993 following the publication of a report by the Australian, Victorian and New South Wales Law Reform Commissions on the issue of informed consent. NHMRC policy now requires that its documents are reviewed five years after publication to ensure that they remain relevant and up to date. In order to review the 1993 General Guidelines, NHMRC conducted a public consultation on the document from July to August 2002. The Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC), a principal committee of the NHMRC, then formed a working group to consider the submissions.
The working group concluded that the 1993 General Guidelines remains a valuable statement of what information needs to be exchanged between patients and doctors, and why. The working group also agreed that despite the existence of the 1993 General Guidelines, and other documents providing information on the ethical and legal requirements for informed consent, many difficulties remain. Problems around providing information to patients relate not only to what information is provided to patients, but also to how the communication of that information occurs. The working group and AHEC therefore concluded that an additional document should focus on the importance of good communication between doctors and patients and highlight good communication practices.
The working group went on to develop the document Communicating with Patients: Advice for Medical Practitioners as a companion document to the General Guidelines. Council endorsed Communicating with Patients: Advice for Medical Practitioners and re-endorsed the General Guidelines at its 152nd Session on 18 March 2004. These publications are now published as complementary documents to assist medical practitioners, medical students and the community, to utilise effective communication methods in the exchange of appropriate information between patients and doctors.