Doctor, Doctor Give Me The News! How Your Doctor Should Deliver Bad News

A family doctor is one that you see for urgent care, preventative care, and short-term medical treatments. If, in the course of conducting some tests, your family doctor discovers something indicative of a major health issue, he or she is required to tell you. Here is how your doctor should deliver bad news, and how you can help him/her with that difficult task.

NOT Over The Phone

Gone are the days when doctors can avoid a face-to-face situation and just call the patient with bad news. In fact, some doctors will not even deliver good news over the phone. They are supposed to ask you if you can come back into the office so that they can give you the news face to face and provide some solutions to what you are facing.

NO Texts, Emails, or Voicemails Either

The last thing anybody wants to hear by text, email, or voicemail is that they have cancer or some other unpleasant disease. A doctor that does this is trying to distance him/herself from the unhealthy patient and the difficult emotions that come with the news. A family doctor that cares is one that makes the effort to show emotional support while informing you about your health issue and your treatment options.

Good News First (If There Is Some)

Good news first and bad news second is a practice in which most healthcare professionals engage. If there is any good news about your bad situation, your doctor should lead with that. For example, if you have cancer, but it is localized and has been caught in the very first stage, that makes it easier to hear that you have cancer rather than just dropping the bomb on you that you have cancer and then telling you what is good about it.

Breaking the News Gently

 Any doctor worth his or her salt will break the news to you gently. This is especially true if there is little good news to tell. It is never easy to tell someone that they have stage three or stage four cancer, HIV/AIDS, or some other disease that will ultimately and quickly lead to his/her death. However, a very calm demeanor and a very positive outlook on what can be done for you is how the doctor will present this bad news. You are then free to ask questions about your treatment options and the length of life you may have left. 

If you're facing a health concern, contact a clinic like Rural Health Services Consortium Inc.