How can I break bad news remotely?BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1876 (Published 12 May 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1876
All rapid responses
I thank Rimmer for collecting the advice of experienced doctors regarding the sensitive topic of remotely breaking bad news(1). From the perspective of a medical student it’s refreshing to learn that the same principles employed in a face to face encounter can be appropriately altered for a video or voice call.
It’s essential that the communication skills taught to medical students reflect the working environment they will transition into following university. Whether this is a socially distanced world or one that has evolved to incorporate digital technology as a result of changing social behaviour and altered resource allocation. Currently there is little to no teaching regarding remote patient communication for medical students, and I believe it is paramount to change curricula to incorporate these vital skills.
The current pandemic and its social distancing ramifications are likely to change the landscape of employment, as many businesses change to permanently allow employees to work from home, which could see more patients contacting health professionals remotely. In the medical profession for situations such as breaking bad news it is advisable to have this meeting face to face, however we may encounter these challenging situations in the future and the next generation of health care professionals need to be prepared for this.
Irrespective of the 2020 pandemic, the medical profession is likely to rapidly evolve as technology advances thus seeing an increase in remote patient consultations. Medical schools need to reflect these changes in real time, whilst still fulfilling GMC criteria, in order for graduands to be the best prepared doctors possible.
1. Rimmer A. How can I break bad news remotely? BMJ. 2020 May 12;369.
Competing interests: No competing interests