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Delivering bad news to patients

Doctors face many challenging situations during the course of their work. One of the difficult tasks that can come before a doctor is having to give a patient bad news. There are a wide range of serious diagnoses or news of negative outcomes a doctor may end up having to deliver to their patients.

What a doctor says when the time to deliver such news comes about can matter a great deal. Making missteps when delivering this news could make this already difficult situation even worse. It could leave a patient feeling even more emotional pain over the news. Or it could leave a patient confused and unclear on their situation and what they can do moving forward.

What can doctors do to try to keep the delivery of bad news to their patients respectful of and consistent with their patients’ interests and well-being? Tips that a recent Medical News Today article noted include:

  • Making careful preparations regarding how to deliver the news and what recommendations to make to the patient.
  • Being straightforward and clear.
  • Avoiding jargon.
  • Showing empathy.
  • Making sure to give the patient the information they need to make informed decisions.
  • Being a good listener.
  • Keeping questions to the patient open-ended.

As this underscores, there are many complex issues and important considerations related to delivering bad news to patients. So, when a doctor is in a situation of having to deliver such news, it can be important for them to give careful thought as to how best to proceed.

Now, issues related to communication with patients are far from the only impactful issues that can come up in relation to difficult situations that arise for doctors. In some such situations, significant legal matters come up, such as matters that could have impacts on a doctor’s license status. Failing to give such legal issues proper attention could have major negative implications for a doctor. Skilled health law attorneys can help doctors with addressing legal matters that have come up in connection to challenging situations related to their practice so they can stay focused on doing what’s best for their patients.

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