How do I deal with a dying patient?


The vast majority of patients are, by definition, ill or injured. Every now and then you’ll get a patient with questionable prospects for the future. You’ll want to say something to the patient, but you may wonder what is appropriate in these situations.

You may not have to say anything. Start by listening to the patient’s concerns.

If the patient isn’t talking but looks as if she’d like to, it’s okay to ask “How are you dealing with all this?” “Are you comfortable?” “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Use nonverbal communication. Smile at the patient. Give her hand a quick squeeze or gently hold it. This can do more than words.

The golden rule applies here: Treat the patient how you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.


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