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What not to do

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team


  • break bad news over the phone
  • avoid the patient
  • leave patient in suspense
  • lie to the patient
  • tell patient if he or she doesn't want to know
  • interrupt excessively
  • use jargon
  • give excessive information as this causes confusion
  • collude
  • be judgmental
  • give a definite time span (just say "days to weeks" or "months to years" etc
  • pretend treatment is working if it isn't
  • ever say "Nothing can be done"
  • leave patient alone afterwards if at all possible

Source:Dr Michael Cushen, St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich,5/96

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