Dealing with Death & Dying in Medical Education and Practice
© 2001 Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS
AMSA Convention March 30, 2001
The WRONG Way to Deal with Patients & Families


  • Focus on Your Problems. 
  • Avoid Meeting with Patient, family, friends, staff.
  • Donít consult with the Bioethics committee.
  • Communicate by phone, not in person. 
  • Donít answer phone calls from the family. 
  • Meet in a noisy environment, with many distractions. 
  • Arrange to be paged during the meeting.
  • Schedule meetings when youíre under stress. 
  • Be distant. Use medical jargon. 
  • Discourage questions. Interrupt family/patient frequently. 
  • Ignore religious or cultural sensitivities. 
  • Make unrealistic promises. 
  • Delegate discussions of painful issues to nurses, social workers, clergy. 
  • Donít discuss durable power of attorney for health care with your patients, or your own family.
Mahoney LE. Palley JK. Bioethical Decision Making with Patients, Families, and Staff: The Right Way and the Wrong Way. 1990. Ethical Currents, Center for Bioethics, St. Joseph Health System.

Compilation of resources for this presentation © 2001 Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS. Journey of Hearts,