Breaking bad news: a practical approach for the hospitalist

Tracy A Minichiello, David Ling, Debra K Ucci
Journal of Hospital Medicine: An Official Publication of the Society of Hospital Medicine 2007, 2 (6): 415-21
Communicating bad news to patients and their families is a difficult but routine responsibility for hospitalists. Most practitioners have little or no formal training for this task. Preparation for, delivery of, and follow-up to these conversations should be deliberately planned in order to meet patients' needs. In this article, we review the literature that guides this process and, with a case example, describe steps practitioners can take to effectively deliver bad news and pitfalls that should be avoided. As competency in this skill set is necessary for effective patient care, hands-on training should be part of the core curriculum for all health care practitioners. Hospitalists should be proficient in this area and may serve as role models and instructors for colleagues and trainees.

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