Critical Care Nurse Responsibilities Include Delivering Bad News
Critical care nurses serve as a liaison between doctors, patients, and the patient’s loved ones. This means that critical care nurse responsibilities include delivering bad news to patients and their families, which is never an easy position to be in.
Nurses are in charge of delivering news that can completely change the course of a person’s life.
Though there is no way to make this situation easy or pleasant, there are several ways or techniques to deliver the news so as to make it easier on the patient and their family.
Related Reading: Critical Care Nursing: How the Role Continues to Evolve
The ABCDE of Breaking Bad News
There are countless studies, opinions, and resources aiming to provide nurses and physicians with the best ways to break bad news.
In 2001 The American Family Physician journal developed a five-step outline which they boiled down to an ABCDE mnemonic device.
Related Reading: What is a Critical Care Nurse and What Does it Take to Become One?
A – Advanced Preparation
- Be informed about the patient’s condition, labs, etc. to be able to provide basic information on prognosis and treatment options.
- Schedule an appropriate time in an appropriate location to deliver the news.
- Rehearse what you’re going to say and prepare emotionally.
B – Build a Therapeutic Environment
- Introduce yourself and make sure you know everyone in the room and their relationship to the patient.
- Make sure you let them know you’re available and schedule follow-up meetings.
C – Communicate Well
- Be honest, but compassionate.
- Don’t use medical jargon they won’t understand.
- Summarize and make follow-up plans.
- Proceed at the patient’s pace, not your own.
D – Deal with Patient & Family Reactions
- Respond to emotions, be aware of body language.
- Be empathetic.
E – Encourage Emotions
- Offer hope, but be realistic. Don’t promise impossible things.
- Inquire about their emotional status and needs.
A Necessary Burden
Being the go-to person of doctors, patients, and families entail a great responsibility.
Part of that responsibility is being the bearer of tragic news that will likely change people’s lives forever and turn their world upside down.
Receiving bad news is inevitable, but being mindful about how you deliver it can make a world of difference.
Thinking about changing your career path? Learn more about different nursing careers.