Posted July 19, 2016 by admin in articles

How To Break Bad News To Patients


Exclusive article by Dennis Hung at EMRIndustry

Bad news is never easy to hear. While life is certainly filled with its fair share of ups and downs for most everyone, it’s never easy to hear the doctor tell you that he or she has bad news. It goes without saying that your health is important, and no one wants to hear that there is anything wrong. Bad news from the doctor is often devastating to patients, but it’s also difficult on doctors and trained medical staff. Doctors might not know their patients too well all the time, but that doesn’t mean they want to be the bearer of bad news or the cause of someone’s tears. There is no way to make bad news any easier to digest, but there are several things you as doctors and medical personnel can do to make breaking the news a bit more bearable.


Start With Yourself


The patient receiving bad news is having a far worse day than you as a doctor. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to provide bad news to a patient. You will feel bad. You will become upset. Someone else’s bad news will affect you, too. When you are preparing to deliver bad news, it’s always helpful to remember that it is normal to feel bad. If you let yourself feel it, it makes it seem more personal to the patient. It’s been said more than once that this can help patients in a way.


Be Clear and Concise


When a doctor approaches a patient with news, the patient is almost always nervous. Doctors have information that patients don’t have, and not knowing that information is difficult. The best thing you can do for your patient is speak clearly. Be concise, too. Say what you need to say without stalling or taking too long, and don’t explain anything in medical terms the average patient might not understand. Keep it clear and simple to make it easier for your patients to digest.


Make Eye Contact


When telling someone that they are sick or that they are dying, make eye contact and speak soft and firm. This is a person receiving the worst news of their life, and they deserve your full attention. Think of it from the patient’s perspective. If the doctor came up to you to tell you that you have cancer while looking at his or her phone or watch, you’d feel unimportant as though your health is not a priority. Make eye contact, and be present for the patient.


Answer Questions Honestly


There is nothing worse than giving a patient false hope. If necessary, take your patient through his or her imagines in your office’s vendor neutral archive and show them what you’ve found. However, don’t provide your patient with false hope or no hope at all. Be honest in every sense of the word. If you’re not sure you can handle this issue, say it. If you know that this particular issue is one that is almost always cured easily, tell the patient. Don’t make guarantees, but don’t take away hope or provide it where it is not warranted.


Be Supportive


When you can use your knowledge to help a patient, offer that support. When you cannot use your knowledge to help a patient, offer your support in any other manner possible. It might not seem like enough to you, but patients appreciate hearing their doctors tell them that they are there for them through this diagnosis. Never underestimate the power of being there for someone in the midst of bad news.


Providing your patients with bad news is the second worst aspect of being in the medical profession. It is second only to losing a patient. You cannot make bad news better no matter what you do, but you can be there for your patient by putting yourself in their shoes before sharing the news. You know your patients, and you know their personalities. Keep that in mind when delivering bad news.


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