We all reside under a “Bell Curve”

Prognostication consists of the computation (formulation) of prognosis together with its discussion (disclosure) to the patient. Prognostication is an imperative for the delivery of truly patient-empowered and patient-centered care. Since clinicians do not possess the powers of soothsayers it is best to express prognosis as probabilistic events. For example, instead of informing patients that they have “one month to live”, it is preferable to state that patients with the same parameters as the patient in question have a “median life expectancy” (or median survival”) of one month. This can be further described in relation to a “Bell Curve”, where, assuming a normal distrubution, the patient has a 50% probability of dying before the median and a 50% probability of dying after the median. Frankly speaking, we all live under our own “Bell Curve”, except ours, in a current state of good health, is shifted to the right along the x-axis.


About drvincentmaida

Consultant in Palliative Medicine & Wound Management, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto & McMaster University, Researcher & Author.
This entry was posted in Bioethics, Palliative Medicine, Promoting PCC & PE. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s