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Quick Uptakes
October 27, 1999

Breaking Bad News

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JAMA. 1999;282(16):1511. doi:10.1001/jama.282.16.1511-JQU90008-4-1

It's hardly a topic for extensive training in medical school: how best to tell family and friends that a loved one has died from a traumatic injury.

Yet when the situation is handled poorly, survivors can be left with a lifetime of bitter memories. So researchers at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle launched a study on how health professionals can best approach the deceased's loved ones in such emotionally charged circumstances.

Study findings, presented last month at the American Association of Surgery for Trauma meeting in Boston, are based on interviews with 50 survivors of trauma victims. The survivors identified clarity of information and privacy as the most important issues when being told their loved ones had died. They said they did not want the news sugarcoated or delayed.

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