News Headlines Article

For loved ones of critically ill patients, hope often trumps understanding of a physician’s prognosis
Los Angeles Times

We have virtually all been there, are there now or will be there someday: A loved one is critically ill, and his or her physician is talking to us about the patient’s prognosis.

She wants to know how we would like to proceed. She’s asking what we think our loved one, hovering in a twilight world, would want. She keeps on talking, though her voice is coming through distant and garbled. The doctor’s words are scaring us.

For a majority of people gathered at the bedside of a critically ill patient, new research finds that confusion and miscommunication rein, jostling for space alongside hope and fear. In more than half the cases plumbed by researchers at four major academic medical centers, the people responsible for directing the care of a critically ill patient neither agreed with nor fully understood the prognosis offered by the physician overseeing the patient’s care.