Royal College of Physicians| October 2018 | Talking about dying: How to begin honest conversations about what lies ahead
A new report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) explores the reasons that doctors and other healthcare professionals find it hard to talk to patients about dying.
During their research, the RCP identified that the timely, honest conversations about their future that patients want are not happening. Yet, these proactive discussions are fundamental to effective clinical management plans, part of being a medical professional and align with the aspirations of the RCP’s Future Hospital Commission report.
This report seeks to offer advice and support for any doctor on holding conversations with patients much earlier after the diagnosis of a progressive or terminal condition, including frailty.
- Ask the patient if they would like to have the conversation and how much information they would want.
- All healthcare professionals reviewing patients with chronic conditions, patients with more than one serious medical problem or terminal illness, should initiate shared decision making including advance care planning in line with patient preferences.
- Conversations about the future can and should be initiated at any point. The conversation is a process not a tick-box, and does not have to reach a conclusion at one sitting.
- Be aware of the language you use with patients and those they have identified as being important to them, and try to involve all the relevant people in agreement with the patient. (Source: Royal College of Physicians)
Read the press release from Royal College of Physicians Talking about dying: How to begin honest conversations about what lies ahead
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