One of the difficulties you may have encountered frequently as a physician is the unpleasant task of delivering bad news. Formal medical education does not adequately provide practical steps for addressing the emotionally taxing aspects of informing patients of distressing news.
Typically, bad news is associated with uncertainty and a very uncomfortable circumstance. Physicians run the risk of disengaging from the emotional bond they share with their patients if they lack the appropriate training to handle the task with maturity.
However, if you make an informed effort to deliver bad news, you and your patient will be able to make decisions with greater ease. As a competent physician, you must ensure that your approach to delivering unfavorable news is both straightforward and compassionate. Occasionally, formal training in communication is required to deliver bad news effectively. This ensures that both the patient’s satisfaction and the physician’s comfort are addressed.
Bad News Is Stressful, So Consoling Advice Is Beneficial
Even a skilled attempt to deliver unfavorable news can cause significant stress. It is essential that you, as a physician, have patience and compassion for your patients’ concerns. This explains why physicians early in their careers may find it especially challenging to deliver bad news.
In addition, when terminally ill patients, such as those diagnosed with cancer, must be informed of their state of health, patients’ emotional concerns may complicate the delivery of care.
Patients must be informed of the true nature of their illness, regardless of their reaction. In this regard, patients are more likely to make better decisions when doctors are forthcoming.
Ethical Considerations for Successful Medical Decision Making
Physicians must be aware of the ethical implications of patient care. Some factors, such as patient autonomy and informed consent, must be considered for effective bad news delivery.
Doctors must avoid all attempts to mislead patients about their health condition. In doing so, physicians must avoid being insensitive and delivering bad news in a blunt manner.
Such attempts to deliver bad news may result in hopelessness or have negative effects on the emotional health of the patient, and may raise ethical concerns.
By delivering bad news to patients with an informed and empathetic demeanor, physicians can ensure that their patients respond positively to treatment, thereby improving their clinical outcomes.