Truth Telling and Palliative Care
Palliative medicine clinicians provide expert and compassionate care for patients living with a life-limiting illness and their caregivers. Caring and skilled clinicians recognize the importance of crafting therapeutic relationships that are based on trust and mutual respect. These relationships are a source of strength and solace for patients seeking to preserve control, integrity, and dignity in the final phases of life. Disclosing bad news and telling the truth in a compassionate yet honest manner is a continuing challenge for physicians. Transparency has become the norm in American medicine, based on the ethical principle that clinicians have a duty to inform in order to preserve patient autonomy. Moreover, the medical community favors engaging patients in sharing decisions about their care, and patients must understand their diagnosis and prognosis to make such decisions. In this chapter, we address truth telling as a complex process that involves dosing information and engaging patients and families in managing and coping with a serious and life-altering illness.
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