Talking with terminally ill patients about their situations is a difficult thing to do. Every patient is unique, and each situation is different. Dr. Atul Gawande, surgeon and The New Yorker contributor, discovered four questions every clinician should ask a terminally ill patient to help with this process.
4 Things to Ask Every Terminally Ill Patient
- Do you know your prognosis? If not, the patient deserves the most honest answer you can give.
- What are your fears about what is to come? Patients need to know the truth about what they are facing. They also need reassurance from people with expertise in these matters who can guide them through their fears and help minimize unnecessary anxieties.
- What would you like to accomplish as time runs short? What are your goals for the remainder of your life? Knowing what is important to your patient can help you guide them through some of the tough decisions they will have to make, such as if they want a DNR order.
- What are you willing to trade off for the possibility of added time? Are you willing to suffer more pain and discomfort for the sake of living longer? Some people prefer quality over quantity while others want to live as long as possible regardless of the consequences.