Friday, October 18, 2013

Teaching Doctors How to Give Patients Bad News (Research, Video 4:38)

Have you ever worried about telling someone bad news in the wrong way. Is there really a good way to say something bad? Imagine how often many doctors have to deliver bad news at critical times in people’s lives and the serious ramifications that can follow if they are unsuccessful in their approach. The reluctance of doing this causes some doctors to go so far as to detach themselves from patients and avoid breaking the news at all.

The ABCDE Plan is one strategy that provides a patient-centered framework for doctors to deliver troubling news to patients and families. Doctors learn how to create a safe environment, use timely communication skills, and how to display empathy. Doctors’ personal reactions to death and dying are also considered. With the population increase in older patients who are terminally ill, doctors need a constructive plan for breaking bad news appropriately.

Another strategy is used at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Medical interns in their first term learn how to deliver bad news to patients through role-playing with actors. These scenarios are followed by faculty feedback on how well the interns did delivering bad news. They are also taught how to advise patients after the bad news is delivered. The following video demonstrates how this is done:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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