Workshop 12

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Difficult Discussions: Can We Improve the Way We Communicate with Patients and Families?

Gregg T. Lueder; Brian Campolattaro; Robert Enzenauer; Gena Heidary; Alex Levin; Alan Richards
Washington University School of Medicine
Saint Louis, MO

 

Purpose/Relevance: Effective communication is an important aspect of providing optimal care and easing the burden of serious medical conditions on patients and families. Some situations are particularly challenging, either because of the serious nature of the medical disorder or because the family presents particular communication problems.  The purpose of this workshop is to discuss communication strategies and techniques that can help both medical practitioners and their patients.

Target Audience: Pediatric ophthalmologists and orthoptists

Current Practice: There is little formal training during medical education regarding communication techniques. Much of this is learned haphazardly through observation of mentors and staff.  Following medical training, most physicians do not have the opportunity to observe their peers in these situations.

Best Practice: Ideally, teaching of effective communication techniques would be a part of continuing medical education.

Expected Outcomes: The goal of this workshop is to provide tips and techniques that medical providers may use in their own practices when dealing with difficult communication problems.

Format: The panel will present and discuss various challenging clinical scenarios and methods for optimizing communication with patients and families. Topics include vision or life-threatening disorders, functional vision loss, parental guilt, and potentially serious non-ocular disorders that may be suspected based on the ophthalmic examination. Approaches to challenging families will also be discussed, including non-compliance, unrealistic demands on physician time, alternative medical treatments that interfere with appropriate medical care, and dysfunctional family relationships.

Summary: The workshop will provide examples and discussion of communication techniques that can help pediatric ophthalmologists and orthoptists improve the care of their patients and families.

References: Krahn GL, Hallum A, Kime C. Are there good ways to give ‘bad news’? Pediatrics 1993;91:578-82.

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