Step What you say or do

Get Ready – Info, People, Place

“Let me take a minute to make sure I’ve got what I need.”

Make sure you have all the information you need at hand.

Make sure you have all the right people in the room.

Find a place with some privacy.

Understand what the patient knows

“What thoughts have you had since the biopsy?”

“What have you taken away from other doctors so far?”

Inform starting with a headline

“The CT scan shows that the cancer has gotten worse”

Give the information clearly and to the point with a one-sentence
headline of the most important piece of information you want them to
take away.

Avoid jargon

After the headline you will need to give more information, but after
giving the headline, STOP!


Demonstrate empathy
Respond directly to emotion

“I can see this news is not what you were hoping for.”

Expect the patient’s first response to be emotion.

Acknowledge the emotion explicitly.

Equip the patient for the next step

“Is there anything I could do to make this a little easier?”

“I want you to be prepared for the next step. Can I explain…”

Don’t dismiss concerns or say that everything will be fine.

Copyright VitalTalk 2019