There’s a helpful rule of thumb for prognosis near end-of-life, but first . . .
It’s always a good idea to ask what’s behind the question. Many patients who ask this may be hunting for something else. We tend to follow up with a question like:
- “Could you tell me what makes you ask this now?” or
- “I wonder how this information would change things for you?”
Then, if the person is looking for an answer, a good rule of thumb for prognosis is:
- If you are seeing changes monthly, you probably have months.
- If you’re seeing changes weekly, you probably have weeks.
- If you’re seeing changes daily, you probably have days.
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