Department of Health

Bad news mitigation

  • 13 September 2016

Sometimes, patients may leave the ward in anger or impulsively, following unwelcome news.

Bad news from home can also cause distress and conflict for patients.

The purpose of this intervention is to help us to notice, rapidly, when people may have received bad news and to act quickly to mobilise psychological and social support before that distress turns into a conflict incident.

Godwin, I know Tess really wanted to go on leave today, unfortunately, Dr Davis has had to refuse her leave because of recent mental and physical state deterioration.

The problem we’ve got is that Dr Davis has had to go somewhere else to tend to something else, so he hasn’t had the chance to explain to her the reasons why she couldn’t have her leave today.

She’s not going to be very happy with that.

She’s going to be quite distressed.

I think, obviously, we have a flashpoint that we’ll have to proactively deal with.

We’re going to have to look at how best we can deliver the information to her and also how best we can support her.

I agree and, in the past, with Tess, I’ve had a really good relationship and I’ve found out what worked previously for her, in times like this, would be contact with her daughter.

Have some one-on-one nursing or get her to listen to some music and chill out.

That would be really good.

I think we should go have a chat with her and explain to her what’s happening.

If you could come along as well, please, because you’ve obviously got a really good relationship with her, so it’ll be good for you to take the lead.

Great, let’s go!

Let’s do it!


Reviewed 21 November 2023