Caring Times, October 2013Nurses warned of ethical pitfalls of ‘therapeutic’ lying
Lying to patients with dementia, even when done with the best of intentions, could land nurses in hot water, Nursing Standard reports this week.
The magazine highlights a study into so-called ‘therapeutic’ lying – lies considered to be in a person’s best interest – which found that though three quarters of respondents said therapeutic lies could improve communication with patients, only half of nurses thought it could be done ethically.
In an earlier phase of the same study researchers at Newcastle University and Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation trust found 98 per cent of nursing staff admitted to lying to patients with dementia.
Despite a recommendation by the researchers that guidelines on the issue should be circulated to nurses, the Department of Health said there are no plans to do so.
Nursing Standard editor Graham Scott said: “Few nurses will be able to claim they have never lied to someone while at work, normally because the alternative could cause undue worry or distress. Yet there is no official guidance on the circumstances in which lying is appropriate. This needs to be addressed.”