health communication article summary

This article focuses on the importance of physicians having the proper communication skills when delivering bad news to patients and/or the patient’s family. It’s overall goal was to determine the extent of formal training physicians had in delivering bad news and/or if they felt the training was necessary. In order to do this they e-mailed surveys to 124 program directors, with questions specifying the importance, amount of training, and quality of training physicians received on how to deliver bad news to patients and their families.

Although the results showed little or no training, the program directors stressed their concerns that there should be more communication training programs to teach physicians how to properly deliver bad news to patients. According to the article, “giving bad news is not easy, and to do it properly requires good communication skills” (Herbert, pg 1119). Having clear communication, respect, empathy, and so forth are important when delivering bad news in the medical care system.

Not only it is it important understand the proper ways in delivering bad news to just the patient, but it is also important know how to discuss bad news with the patients family as well. Unfortunately, according to this articles results, “89% of program directors surveyed reported that they received little to no training during their fellowship” (Herbert, pg 1122). Relaying bad news is not an easy task, it is probably one of the hardest things to do.

Only when communication is done effectively can a physician “appropriately discuss prognosis, prescribe treatment, deliver bad news and discuss end-of-life care with their patients” (Herbert, pg 1123). Even though some training does begin in medical school, it is important to realize it is not enough, and that there should be continuing education programs throughout one’s medical profession. It is important to review and improve ways in which you can better communicate with your patient and/or their family.

By doing all of this you are building a better relationship with them. This article relates to the scene I chose in a Grey’s Anatomy episode, In the Midnight Hour. During the scene, an attending struggles with properly delivering bad news to a patient’s family, regarding their daughter’s status. She enters the scene abruptly while the daughter is in the process of asking another doctor if her sister will ever have a chance of waking up.

Instead of showing any sign of remorse or empathy, the attending replies that her sister will not wake up, that she is going to die, and that if she can get the consent of her parents, she is here to collect her organs. This only upsets the sister more, and results in her screaming at her to get out. Unfortunately, there are doctors that have not had proper training in delivering bad news, which results in their lack of bedside manner and ineffective ways of showing empathy.

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