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End-Of-Life Discussions Need Skilled And Sensitive Approach

September 14, 2010

Health care professionals need sensitivity when delivering the news of a patient’s imminent death, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj101201.pdf.

Rather than delegate end of life discussions to inexperienced members of medical teams, these should be delivered by experienced professionals with a network of colleagues who can help in communication and decision-making.

“Without investments in training for all health care professionals and ongoing support for palliative care, we will be “caring” for patients and families who feel abandoned, angry or overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness,” write guest author Dr. David Kuhl, St. Paul’s Hospital with Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, Deputy Editor, CMAJ and CMAJ Editor-in-Chief Dr. Paul Hebert. “With proper support, awareness and training all of us have the ability to connect with terminally ill patients and their loved ones so that they feel sustained, rather than abandoned, at a time of great need.”

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