by Sujatha Nanjundeshwara | 15 NOV 2017
As they say, bad news lies in the eyes of the beholder. Let’s look at how to break bad news and also discuss some coping mechanisms here.
Q. How should physicians break bad news to patients?
For a physician, it is doubly difficult to be the bearer of bad news; he gets blamed for the situation and may also be at a loss to answer random questions about future developments. At the same time, if he delivers bad news in either an inadequate or insensitive manner, it may impair the patient’s and his/ her relatives’ ability to cope with its consequences.
Q.So how should physicians break bad news to patents?
Adopt a patient and family centered approach. In other words, convey information aligned to the needs of patient and his family.
Deliver the news in context: The message should be delivered in the context of a patients’ cultural,spiritual and religious beliefs.
Make it clear: Double check if the news has been properly understood and assimilated.
Empathize: In the final stage he can express empathy. Of course, several medical institutions have pre-specified protocols to address this process.
Q. How should relatives break bad news to a father or mother?
Wait for the right time: This doesn’t mean wait till the last minute before sharing critical information. I it just means seat everybody down together before you speak.
Prepare them to receive the news: Don’t just blurt out the news but instead share it in a calm and mature manner. Also deliver the news in its entirety; don’t hold anything back or resort to half truths or lies, it will only worsen the situation later on.
Let them vent: Whether its questions, anger, fury, despair or just plain tears, be prepared to handle each reaction in an empathetic manner.
Discuss the way forward: Wait for the initial emotions to subside and then broach the topic of what needs to be done next. Offer to organize, coordinate any/all help needed.
Q. How should you handle bad news?
Nobody likes to receive bad news, period. It’s jarring and turns your world upside down. But such are the ways of fate and here are some ways you can use to deal with bad news.
Breathe in deeply to deal with the stress.
Have a sip of water to keep you hydrated.
Catch 40 winks; a short power nap will help you deal with the news clearly and logically.
Act. Think and implements ways to improve the situation.
Q .How should you cope with bad news?
Stay focused on the positive, have a healthy routine in place. You could also try any/ all of the below.
Exercise : Go for a walk , indulge in your favorite sport, do yoga or even hit the gym to release the tension
Prioritize: Let the not-so- important things like dirty dishes or unwashed clothes slide into the background for a while.
Eat healthy: Avoid binge eating or resorting to booze, they will just end up making the situation worse.
Grow stronger emotionally: Deal with the disappointment/ shock in a calm, confident manner,reach out to friends and family or even seek professional help to cope with the situation.
Sleep: You need a goof night’s rest and depriving yourself of sleep will only make you even more tense and anxious.
Maintain a diary: Record not just the bad things but also all the pieces of good news that came your way that came your way that day.
Go spiritual: whether its meditation or visiting a holy site, let your heart and soul take youwherever they can find spiritual peace.
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