Saturday, October 21, 2006

Communication Strategies

We've all been in that position where we just don't know how to word things when talking to a patient or a patient's family. Here are some useful communication strategies when discussing end of life care:

Less Helpful: Do you want us to do everything?
More Helpful: Let's review what treatment options are possible, and discuss the impact on your quality of life

Less Helpful: Will you agree to discontinue care?
More Helpful: Some of the care that you have been receiving is no longer beneficial. Let's discuss other care options that are available.

Less Helpful: I think we should stop treatment.
More Helpful: It's time to reconsider our goals of care. There are other options available that are geared toward relieving discomfort and maximizing your ability to function.

Less Helpful: You failed to respond to treatment.
More Helpful: The treatment that we have offered to you has not been the success we'd hoped for. Let's discuss other options.

Less Helpful: There's nothing more we can do.
More Helpful: There are many other things we can do to help you, and will.

Less Helpful: There is no hope.
More Helpful: We can always hope for the best. Let's also plan for the worst.

Less Helpful: We're going to withdraw care on this patient.
More Helpful: The goals of care have changed for this patient from curative care to comfort care.