What To Do When You Have Bad News For Patients

new nurse practitioner tips on the job learning real world topics Feb 07, 2023
An image of a woman smiling in a light pink background with text Delivering Bad News To Patients

Have you had to give a patient bad news? Did you feel prepared or scared? It is a necessary part of being a Nurse Practitioner, and it’s always going to be challenging, but it is better if you are prepared.

Not all bad news is created the same. In some cases, bad news is life changing information, but in other cases, it might be life limiting information. Keeping in mind that patients might not react to news the way that you expect will help you to prepare for the conversation. Our perspective is likely to differ from the patient’s. What we might consider serious news, like a new diagnosis of diabetes, might be catastrophic to the patient. Doing our best to understand and anticipate the patient’s perspective will benefit us both.

How To Deliver Bad News To Your Patient 

This week, we have a video that covers so much of the ins and outs of delivering bad news to your patient. We will talk about all of the things to consider when you have these conversations with your patient. We’ll cover:

  • How to prepare yourself
  • How to prepare the setting
  • How to have the actual conversation with the patient
  • The difference that trauma-informed care can make in having these difficult conversations with patients
  • A framework to guide the experience for you and the patient
  • Some specific language to use in these conversations

Getting and giving bad news is always tough; having a plan for the visit will make a big difference. Develop a plan for follow up and next steps with the patient before you give them the news will also make a big difference. Using as much empathy as you can, keep the patient at the center of the conversation and give space for any emotions that might show up. 

Resources mentioned in this episode:


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