The ability to communicate effectively with patients is a necessary part of any medical career. When it comes to bad news, however, talking with your patient becomes harder than ever. No one enjoys delivering negative information, but these conversations are often an unavoidable part of patient care. While these moments are never easy, there are ways to handle them with the respect and compassion they deserve. When you can have these difficult conversations successfully, you can help your patient better understand their situation and the necessary steps forward. Improve your patient communication skills with these tips for delivering bad news with empathy.
Look Beyond Your Own Perspective
A vital part of empathy is taking the time to understand outside perspectives. Approach these conversations with your patient’s views and experiences in mind. How much does your patient understand about their situation? What are their top concerns? Listen to their worries, address their fears, and do your best to answer any questions they might have. Doing so will help you better understand where your patient is coming from and build a solid relationship for the two of you to communicate and work together as you move forward.
Take Time With the Patient
You can’t rush difficult conversations, no matter how busy your schedule is. If you know you’ll have to deliver a bad test result or some other negative news, make sure you give yourself enough time to sit down with your patient and have a discussion. Your patient will likely need time to process the news, but they will also have a lot of questions and concerns that you don’t want to leave them alone with. Take the time to discuss details, answer questions, and start thinking about what happens next. Setting aside that time will ensure that you don’t leave your patients alone and scared with the news you just gave them.
Be Clear and Direct
You always want to be kind and compassionate with patients. At the same time, one of the best tips for delivering bad news with empathy is to communicate your point clearly. Don’t dance around the issue or overwhelm your patient with technical terms or medical jargon. Make sure you discuss the situation in a way that your patient can easily understand. Your language should be kind but straightforward. This will help you treat the situation with respect while also remaining professional.
Compassionate communication is a cornerstone of a good medical facility. You can further improve your practice by giving your staff the tools they need to provide quality care. Visit Medical Positioning to find the comfortable and effective equipment you need—such as our ergonomic ultrasound chair—to give both your staff and your patients the best experience possible.