In message can be extremely devastating and must

In this critical analysis, I am going to
investigate communicating bad news to patients because it is one of the most
crucial parts of working in optical practice. The message can be extremely
devastating and must be delivered in an appropriate way in which you make it as
easy as possible for the patient to come to terms with. When I work as a Dispensing
Optician, I must possess the necessary communication skills to handle such
situations. I chose to research this area, particularly because I am a positive
individual who tends not to focus on negatives (outside the ophthalmic context)
and this will give me an insight on how to guide myself through negative
situations in practice, as they cannot be ignored. I will be analysing the
article ‘Communicating Bad News’ from the ‘Dispensing Optics’ magazine, written
by Antonia Chitty, a former Optometrist who will have had to give bad news on several
occasions throughout her time in practice. In the article, she discusses ways in
which patients can be supported when receiving common types of bad news about
their vision. A critical analysis will increase my understanding of her opinions,
check the reliability and allow me to think rationally about how to act in
practice.

According
to Antonia, a key part of effective communication is to “be honest. Don’t be unrealistic”. This implies that regardless of
how disheartening the news may be, you must never give false information. “The
laws of informed consent demand this, as well as the ethical requirements of
honesty”. (O.D, P. 2016). The secondary source supports the point that we
must not forget ethics, this is a crucial factor in any practice. The news can
be life-changing and so the situation must be dealt with seriously. The ‘Guide
to Communication’ states “patients welcome this kind of reassurance, it plays
an important role in reaffirming a positive outlook in the consultation”.
Patients will expect to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about
and isn’t misleading them or building false hope, and therefore honesty is crucial.

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The article also states that personal and
sensitive issues should be dealt with “in
a private area, away from the main shop floor”. Uninterrupted privacy demonstrates
respect and compassion towards the patient. After researching, it is evident
that personal space is important, it “gives patients the opportunity to freely
express emotions and ask questions”. (O.D, P. 2016). This suggests that
the patient will not want to be in the presence of others and moving aside will
make the situation less daunting. Research has found “high levels of patient
anxiety can lead to reduced levels of patient satisfaction, recall of
information and compliance”. (Millington, A. and Court, N, D). Giving the
patient space assures him/her that you truly do care about their situation, are
giving them time and that they are in good hands.

Furthermore, “be empathetic, not just sympathetic”. There is a difference in
both these behaviours. Sympathy is showing concern, whereas empathy is going
the extra mile and putting yourself in the patient’s position. This is ideal as
it allows you to imagine how the patient must be feeling and indicates what sort
of approach you should have when confronting the patient. “Showing empathy to
patients can improve their satisfaction of care and motivate them to stick to treatment
plans” found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
As a result, the patient will feel looked after and this will encourage them to
want to do what is best for themselves to overcome any difficulties with their
sight.

Overall, the article is useful and informative
as it covers different problems linked to eyesight and I am now aware of how
optical professionals working in practice should act. The article has statements
from the manager of the Eye Clinic Impact Team at Royal National Institute of
Blind People, she is an expert so her advice will be reliable. On the other
hand, I felt that it consisted mainly of quotes and Antonia did not use her own
expertise to expand on their statements as much as she should have. Having said
this, she has provided a useful links section for further reading and also
suggested contact details of associations that provide support. The points that
I have picked out are credible as they are actually standards of the GOC (16.1,
14.3, and 4.1). I believe that if I can implement these simple but effective actions
into practice it will lessen the impact of the negative news on the patient.

As challenging as it will be, ultimately, “you
are helping that person receive the care that he/she needs and potentially
saving his/her vision and possibly life”. (Harvey M. Rosenwasser, O.
(2008).