Breaking Bad News to Family and Friends

Assessment item 3: Reflective Journal Part B – Death & Dying; Breaking bad news & SIDS 5/9/2011 Word count 500 ? Health professionals have the task of informing family and friends of their loved ones death or terminal illnesses this process occurs daily in the pre hospital environment, emergency departments and doctors rooms. A Sudden, unexpected death or impending death is a crisis for the patient family and emergency medical staff.

The emergency clinician has multiply responsibilities when dealing with the challenge of death or dying patients these including the physiological needs of the patient, family and medical staff (Gary & Wasserberger 1986). Deaths is a part of life. Most deaths that occur in the pre hospital environment will be beyond the ability of the EMS provider to prevent. Dealing with death is one of the most profound challenges an EMS provider will face (Soreff, & Cadigan 2003).

Disclosing the bad news is difficult and most professionals who have the task of delivering bad news do it badly there is no training manuals for these circumstances and every situation is different. The people who broke the news included doctors, nurses and the police. Police were thought to be the most sympathetic; doctors and nurses the least (Finlay, 1991). As an ambulance officer, I have attended many patients with terminals illnesses and have had the tasks of dealing with sudden death.

My first actions will normally include dealing with the clinical side of the case and leaving my senior most experienced partner with the family’s physiological care. When I have found myself looking after the family in crisis and on reflection, I find myself going thru the processes of what occurs next with the family, the attendance of police, doctors and funeral directors. Each case I have attended is different and requires a different approach and thou we read documents and study on the best practice each case plays out in its own way.

First impressions are crucial as a representative of emergency services you are granted a certain amount of the public’s trust at each new scene. You have to earn the rest by putting the patient or the family’s if the patient is deceased at ease by letting them know you are on their side you respect their comments and you want to help (Bledsoe, Porter, & Cherry 2006). Understanding my own emotions and personal growth with in pre-hospital care and dealing with death and dying patients has forced me to undergo and develop a respect for death and how it effect people in different ways.

Thru ongoing study and experience on the job I challenge myself everyday to arm myself with knowledge and develop skills to prepare myself with the inevitable tasks and cases involving death and dying patients. Studies show evidence that good communication skills are a prerequisite of patient care, acquisition of these skills are something we develop as we gain experience in our respective field of medicine (Del Mar, & Henderson 1997).

Forming a relationship with a person in a crisis may be particularly difficult; the routine elements of etiquette still need to be observed. You should introduce yourself to the patient and or relatives and friends. It’s worth obtaining some information during the conversation if possible. what the patient or family are concerned about, who is related to whom, what they already know, history leading up until the arrival of EMS and most importantly what the news might mean to the family, specifically when deal with sudden death (Del Mar, & Henderson 1997).

On reflection I have actively chosen to arm myself with qualities such as warmth and unconditional positive regard, empathy and genuineness to help me provide a professional positive experience for each of the patients I attend as an advocate for the ambulance service. References Bledsoe, B. E. , Porter, R. S. & Cherry, R. A. (2006). Therapeutic communications. In Paramedic care, Principles & Practice: Introduction to advanced prehospital care (2nd ed. ). (pp. 464-480). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Brady, Pearson, Prentice Hall. Del Mar, C. & Henderson, M. (1997).

Communicating bad news to patients and relatives. Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. London: Tavistock Publications. Ordog, G. j. & Wasserberger, J. (1986). Dealing with sudden death of the emergency patient. Canadian family physician, Vol 32, 797-802. Retrieved from http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC2327621/pdf/canfamphys00194-0003. pdf Sanders, M. J. (2001). Mosby’s paramedic textbook. (2nd ed. ). St. Louis: Mosby-Elsevier. Soreff, S. M. & Cadigan, R. T. (2003). EMS Street Strategies: Effective patient interaction. Clifton Park NY: Delmar Learning.