51% of physicians have delayed delivering bad news to patients — 6 insights

Megan Wood -   Print  |

A Medscape Medical News poll asked physicians and nurses whether they had ever delayed giving bad news to patients.

The poll included answers from 222 physicians and 145 nurses/advanced practice nurses.


Here are six insights:


1. Of those polled, 51 percent of physicians reported they had delayed telling patients bad news.


2. Forty-four percent of nurses said they had waited to deliver bad news to patients.


3. Fifty percent of physicians said they often have to deliver bad news, while 26 percent of nurses said the same.


4. The polled physicians and nurses ranked "anxiety" as their top emotion when reporting bad news. "Failure" and "frustration" ranked as the second and third most-felt feelings when providers deliver bad news.


5. Six percent of nurses and 9 percent of physicians reported they feel anger when delivering bad news.


6. Of those polled, 66 percent of physicians and 70 percent of nurses said the patients' reactions impact how they will handle delivering bad news. Family members' reactions came in second for influencing how providers will react to giving bad news.


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