Doctors, unfortunately, have little training in how to deliver bad news. But it's a critically important aspect of a physician's responsibility -- one that has tremendous impact on patients.
Cardiologist Kevin Campbell offers some tips, including using a structured process to deliver bad news to patients. It's a skill that needs to be mastered early in medical training:
Successful communication and a structured process for delivering bad news must be mastered early in training. It is essential that training programs teach these skills. More importantly, physicians who are involved in training programs must model effective behaviors. Promote a team based communication strategy and always involve trainees in family meetings and end of life discussions. The “See one, do one, teach one principle” is important in learning effective communication skills just as it is in learning procedures.