Delivering sad news to patients that includes discussing end-of-life options can be very difficult for the patient, their family members, and you. Here are some key tips in helping prepare for the conversation:
- Do not rush the conversation.
- Hold the discussion in a private, quiet place where everyone can be seated comfortably to participate in the conversation.
- Discuss the patients’ diagnosis, including what the patient understands and the expected prognosis.
- Discuss the differences between palliative care and hospice care and engage the patient and their family in a thoughtful conversation about which course of action is best for the patient.
- Become familiar with your local hospital’s Palliative Care team and how to refer to them.
Advanced directives by state
Identify the patient’s goals for end-of-life care and discuss their advanced directives. If they do not have an advanced directive, encourage them to make one.
- For providers:
National Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm: Use the “Find your state POLST Program” search tool to locate the appropriate program for your patient.
- For patients:
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: CaringInfo: This program provides free resources to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services before a crisis.