Breaking Bad News

A ten step approach

Peter Kaye

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Format: Ebook

Publication date: February 24, 2023

Pages: 64 pages

ISBN: 9781914961298 Related titles: ,

Other editions available: Paperback


Breaking Bad News provides practical guidance on the key principles needed to create a framework for discussions with the patient

Key Features:

  • Concise, practical guide
  • Features a simple 10 step approach
  • Clear explanations with key phrases for you to use
  • For doctors, students and healthcare professionals

The ability to impart bad news well is an important skill for all doctors and many healthcare professionals. But it is perceived as a particularly stressful part of the job, even though it is a skill that can easily be understood and practised. When handled well it can significantly enhance the relationship with the patient and their relatives.

10 Simple Steps

The principles are presented as 10 simple steps which emphasise that the process of breaking bad news is a negotiation with the patient to ensure that you provide them with the correct level of information they need at that time. The steps also encourage the patient to talk and think about their situation.

Each of the steps is clearly explained and sample questions and key phrases are provided to help you navigate these discussions effectively and with compassion. If you learn to ask questions of the patient first and then elicit their concerns, you will help them and you will gain their trust.

Preface; About the author
Why is it important?
Why is it difficult?
How not to do it
Some perceptions of bad news
"Please don't tell"

10 steps in breaking bad news
A model of breaking bad news

Step 1: Preparation
Step 2: What is known?
Step 3: Is more information wanted?
Step 4: Allow denial
Step 5: The warning shot
Step 6: Explain (if requested)
Step 7: Elicit concerns
Step 8: Venting of feelings
Step 9: Summary and plan
Step 10: Offer availability

Follow-up 1: Further explanation
Follow-up 2: Emotional adjustment
Follow-up 3: Meeting relatives

Further reading

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