Summary

• Professional kindness works. Parents, and physicians themselves benefit.

• Treating families with professional kindness affects those families for the rest of their lives. Families who experience the lack of kindness are negatively affected forever, whereas those who experienced their doctor's concern feel cared about, which strengthens their ability to cope.

b. Make eye contact.

c. Say you are sorry to have to give bad news.

d. Give the diagnosis in a private setting.

e. Explain the diagnosis simply and clearly.

f. Do not take calls or allow interruptions while telling the news.

g. Allow the parents to cry or to express shock, grief, anger, or any other emotion they feel.

h. If you are too busy to spend sufficient time, arrange for another appointment so that parents can have adequate time to ask questions.

i. Do not try to ameliorate grief by saying such things as

"It could be worse." j. Try to give appropriate referrals. It helps both the family and the physician to be able to do something. k. If possible, do not request payment from a family in shock. A staff member can contact the family at a later date.

l. Teach your staff about all these points. Insist on professional kindness in your office.

Acknowledgment. I thank Marilyn Horn, L.C.S.W., for all her hard work with the original subject matter.

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