Chapter 2: Explaining common clinical issues

Introduction

Calls where a patient is dying require sensitivity and often necessitate difficult conversations. Many health care providers aren’t comfortable with these discussions. 

Your choice of words, tone of voice, the expression on your face and the time you take to answer questions are amongst the most important aspects of responding to a call where a patient is dying. Years after a death, family members may not remember what you did medically, but they’ll remember how they were treated. 

Verbal and non-verbal communication make a difference to the patient and family and can also positively impact how you view the success of the call. Constructive communication both before and after death can profoundly affect the family’s future coping and adjustment in bereavement.