Should the Patient Know the Truth?

  • Paul B . Beeson
  • Published 1954 in Journal of the Mount Sinai Hospital, New York


facilities for infant and maternal care. Interest in the causes of perinatal mortality and in their prevention is of great importance since neonatal mortality has not demonstrated a decrease in recent years comparable to that in older age groups. Recent publications by Bundeson and by Potter have also served the commendable purpose of directing increased and much needed attention to the problem of infant deaths. The present report appraises three categories of infant deaths: stillbirths, neonatal deaths within the first five days, and neonatal deaths from the sixth to the thirtieth day. Each death was reviewed by a team composed of an obstetrician, a pediatrician, and a pathologist for the presence of one or more of the following responsibility factors: inadequate prenatal care, error in medical judgment, error in medical technique, family at fault, unqualified medical attendant, unavoidable disaster, or inadequate pediatric care. One of the startling conclusions reached in this study was that 35% of these perinatal deaths were preventable! As an example, it was considered that 40%Z of the infant deaths following delivery by cesarean section were preventable. The report contains a number of other important and disturbing findings all of which have implications for the improvement of perinatal care. This study would have been even more valuable had a comparable analysis and study been made of infants who had survived. Also, although perhaps not included in its purpose, a discussion of means to diminish the number of preventable deaths would have been of interest. Suggestions for future studies of this character are contained in this report and will be helpful in the planning for similar studies in other communities.

Cite this paper

@article{Beeson1954ShouldTP, title={Should the Patient Know the Truth?}, author={Paul B . Beeson}, journal={The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine}, year={1954}, volume={28}, pages={160 - 161} }