"Students and house staff officers are lucky when one of their professors takes the time to discuss with them how he/she tells a bad diagnosis to a new patient. This is how I advise them to handle it: 'Take a chair or sit on the edge of the bed if need be and touch a hand. That will comfort the patient. And don't think for a minute that men do not appreciate that gesture; they do. Unless the patient decides differently, it is better when the spouse, a close member of the family or a friend is present. Remember that after you leave the room, it will be awfully lonely for the patient. Tell the bad news, but immediately hold out a few rays of hope to grasp. And be prepared to answer the questions that will follow, not once but several times because most patients do not remember what you told them. You will be amazed how the well-informed patients accept the worst diagnosis and how grateful they are that you took the time to sit with them. Answer all questions and remember, the informed patient becomes your best patient. And no question is a dumb question.'"
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