Breaking Bad News to Family and Friends

Topics: Emergency medical services, Paramedic, Death Pages: 3 (760 words) Published: August 13, 2011
Assessment item 3: Reflective Journal Part B – Death & Dying; Breaking bad news & SIDS


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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...

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
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.
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