In a paper and the , Dr. Schwarze, Dr. Kruser and colleagues suggested creating narratives to illustrate surgical risks, rather than relying on statistics.
Instead of telling patients that surgery carries a 20% risk of stroke, for example, doctors should lay out the best, worst and most likely outcomes.
In the best-case scenario, a patient might spend weeks in the hospital after surgery, living the rest of her life in a nursing home. In the worst case, the same patient dies after several weeks in intensive care. In the most likely scenario, the patient survives just 2-3 months after surgery.
Dr. Schwarze said, “If someone says they can’t tolerate the best-case scenario – which involves them being in a nursing home – then maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.”