Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Tips for Radiologists for Talking to Patients

Published on the Dec. 1, 2015, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

As a radiologist, one of the most important – and sometimes difficult – things you will do is deliver news to a patient. Some revelations will be good; some will be bad. Others could include taking responsibility for unintentional errors. Your no. 1 primary goal is making sure the patient understands what you’re saying.

Knowing how to handle these discussions is imperative to providing quality patient care and improving patient satisfaction, said Stephen Brown, MD, a Harvard Medical School associate professor of radiology and practicing radiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, at RSNA 2015.
“Whether it’s good news, bad news, or revealing an error, these discussions can occur across a continuum,” Brown said. “Ultimately, the skills required for one are required for all of them. They are similar and overlapping conversations.”

When disclosing findings or a mistake to a patient, he said, the most important thing to consider is how you might want to receive the news. Remember these conversations are two-way discussions – you can’t simply impart information and walk away. Anticipate a patient might exhibit a wide range of emotions, ask a lot of questions, or sit silently to process the information.

Part of your role, he said, is to make the patient feel cared for, heard, and respected while you try to develop a plan that will accommodate his or her wishes. In some cases, mnemonic devices can help you remember the framework for navigating these conversations. For example, SPIKES stands for: setting and listening skills, patient perception, invite patient to share information, knowledge transmission, explore emotions, and summarize and strategize.

A mnemonic device can really only be guide, however, he said. Scripting these conversations is impossible.

“Just like live musicians that improvise with harmony, melody, rhythm, and choral progression, you must be able to incorporate sensitivity, comfort, compassion, empathy, and appropriateness into these discussions,” Brown said.

Both nonverbal and verbal communication skills are important when delivering good or bad news, he said.

To read the remainder of the article at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/rsna-2015/tips-radiologists-talking-patients

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December 1, 2015 - Posted by | Healthcare | , , , ,

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