Communicating news of patients’ deaths to unrelated stem cell donors
Miriam Atkinson Stem cell donor manager, Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, Pontyclun, Wales
Aim To identify the most appropriate method of breaking news of a patient’s death to unrelated stem cell donors, and to establish best practice guidelines based on the findings.
Method In this retrospective study, 100 unrelated stem cell donors from the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry were interviewed regarding their experiences of receiving news of a patient’s death. Results were analysed by counting responses to the interview schedule, and identifying common themes from the open comments.
Results Of the 100 participants, 78 had been informed of the patient’s death by letter and 22 by telephone with the option of a follow-up letter. Overall, 61 per cent (n=61) of donors interviewed preferred to be contacted by telephone, 25 per cent (n=25) by letter and 13 per cent (n=13) by face-to-face contact at a visit.
Conclusion There is no easy way to break bad news, and each individual responds to grief in a unique way. By building up a trusting relationship with the donor, the healthcare professional can assess the individual to ascertain which method of receiving news of a patient’s death would be most appropriate.
19, 32, 41-47.
This article has been subject to double blind peer review
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