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Breaking the "bad" news to patients and families: preparing to have the conversation about end-of-life and hospice care

Robert L Arnold, Kathleen Egan
American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology 2004, 13 (6): 307-12
The ability to compassionately communicate difficult or "bad news" to a patient and family is essential to the provision of quality care at the end-of-life. Preparing to have these conversations requires a deliberate multilevel approach that includes: 1) becoming comfortable with end-of-life issues; 2) understanding the scope of the experiences from the patient's and family's perspectives; 3) understanding the full range of choices and options you can offer patients and families regarding their care (including hospice care); 4) developing a "can do" approach toward your involvement with end-of-life care; and 5) learning to effectively share and receive information in a compassionate manner. The following article explores this multilevel approach in an effort to assist physicians and other health care professions in supporting patients and families in their transition from curative care to hospice and palliative care.


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