How physicians should counsel patients and relatives with terminal illness
It is difficult but it can be done and it should be done with tact.
My way – ROJoson’s Way!
First, know the diagnosis and extent of disease.
Second, know the prognosis (terminal-illness is conventionally defined as a patient with a disease that is known based on published statistics to have an average life expectancy of about 6 months). Patients with the terminal illness with continuing deterioration of body functions at the time the physician sees a patient may even have lesser average life expectancy – say 3 months, 1 month or days left).
Third, assess the psychological make-up of the patient and the relatives whether they are ready for the comprehensive counselling or not. (preparation for death)
Fourth, manage the relatives first. Tell them the score and ask them if you can counsel the patient already.
If yes, fifth, counsel the patient with tact (slow, simple with understandable explanation, with compassion, with empathy, with advice on what to do next, etc.)
Sixth, continue to keep in touch with the patient and relatives and support them in whatever way you can, up to the last day of the patient’s life.