Friday, June 21, 2019
Kaiser Health News ran an interesting story that doctors aren't always the best at breaking bad news. Never Say ‘Die’: Why So Many Doctors Won’t Break Bad News relates the experiences of one doctor who as a patient, found his doctor unable to give him his terminal diagnosis. With the time he has left, he is teaching med students on how to have the conversation.
Robust research shows that doctors are notoriously bad at delivering life-altering news, said Dr. Anthony Back, an oncologist and palliative care expert at the University of Washington in Seattle....
Up to three-quarters of all patients with serious illness receive news in what researchers call a “suboptimal way,” Back estimated.... “’Suboptimal’ is the term that is least offensive to practicing doctors,” he added.
This lack of information seems puzzling given that patients need info in order to make an informed decision. Why is this happening? For one, "many doctors, especially those who treat cancer and other challenging diseases,'“death is viewed as a failure,'” said one expert quoted in the article. The article covers the needed skills, how they might be taught, and what is being done to help with this issue.