Lost in Clinical Translation… communicating and understanding when you’re scared

Theresa Brown, a nurse, describes the problems of communication between the medical personnel and the patient.  It addresses the role that fear and anxiety play in making it difficult for patients or their families to hear and process information.   The article was provoked by witnessing what Ms. Brown thought was a clear and effective communication with the patient who then asked her what all of it meant after the medical team left.  It became clear that the patient was terrified and unable to grasp what had been said.

The article addresses the importance of empathic conversations with both patients and loved ones as a way to encourage making sense of difficult and complicated diagnoses and treatments.

The implications for both patients and their proxies are clear. 

1.     It is obvious that we should have physicians who are willing to take time with us and who encourage questions. 

2.     We should have others in attendance when conversations about treatments and their implications are undertaken. 

3.     We should ask physicians to use familiar words to describe what is ongoing, and to explain other medical terminology or procedures in simple terms.

 

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