February 9, 2018 – Communication


Anchor lead: Parents of sick kids and doctors may not hear the same things when it comes to family meetings, Elizabeth Tracey reports

When doctors talk with parents about their sick infants, they may think they’re being up front with likely prognoses, but that may not be the case. That’s according to research by Renee Boss, an expert in the care of newborns at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues.

Boss: We found that in fact families and clinicians walk away from those conversations with different ideas about what’s been said. What’s interesting about this study is that we actually recorded what was said, and what we found was that while most clinicians walked away from that conversation telling us that the babies had a very low chance of leaving the hospital without severe disability, most of the communication inside the conversation was pretty optimistic.  :30

Boss says such a result runs counter to parents’ needs to know the most likely outcomes so they are able to prepare better, and points to the necessity to train physicians in communication strategies. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.