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Psychological medicine

Life-limiting illness. Breaking the news

CATHERINE MASON, GREG DE MOORE

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© MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES/ ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY

Abstract

There is no formula for telling a patient that all active treatments for their life-limiting condition have been exhausted, but preparation is indispensable. A considered, respectful and reflective approach will help patients and increase doctors’ skill at showing care in such difficult conversations.

Article Extract

The most common causes of death in Australian adults over 45 years of age are cancer, vascular disease, dementing illnesses and chronic obstructive lung disease. These are, for the most part, chronic diseases with a variable course from diagnosis, but for most patients there will come a time when all active treatments are exhausted and the doctor’s role is to provide supportive care until death.

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© MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES/ ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY
© MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES/ ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY