Breaking bad news: initiation

Having established that Mrs Dohertyís condition is deteriorating and that palliative care is warranted, you must now break the difficult news to Mr and Mrs Doherty.

Take a moment to read and consider which of the following statements would be the most appropriate way of initiating a conversation involving bad news? 

Once you have decided which opening statement you would use, click on the tab to obtain feedback. You may then click on the others to see feedback for each approach.


Mrs Doherty, unfortunately I have some difficult information to give you. Is this a good time to talk about it? Is it okay if we talk about it in front of your husband?  Would you like anyone else to be here too?


Mrs Doherty, what are your concerns at the moment?


I know you would like me to be honest with you, so Iíll start by telling you that you are experiencing multiple organ failure.  Your lungs, kidneys and brain are very unwell.  You will not be able to go home.


Mrs Doherty, Iím afraid that your test results donít look too good. Iím very sorry to have to give you some bad news - your condition may be terminal.