August 2018 – Providing serious medical information is challenging. Below are helpful steps and phases.
1. Use simple language.
“I wish I had better news, but the biopsy showed cancer.”
“I’m afraid you have had a miscarriage.”
2. Listen, use silence, and acknowledge emotions.
“This is hard.”
“I know this is not what you were hoping for.”
“What is going through your mind?”
3. Equip the patient for the next step(s).
“I would like you to see Dr. ______________ .”
“The next step is an MRI.”
“Would you like me to discuss this with your family?”
“It’s time to focus our care on your comfort.”
4. Use a warm hand-off and follow-up phone calls/emails to avoid a sense of abandonment.