A few weeks ago, Richard Winters wrote about the "Death Talk." He wrote about talking with the family of a deceased patient.
Richard works in a Emergency Department. I'm a family physician.
So we see the death of our patients in different ways.
Yet he's right about the need to undersand what the other person is thinking, and what they understand. This is necessary with all physician-patient(or family) interactions. I usually ask patients what they know about something before I launch into a long blab blab blab about something. I usually do this. Last week, I saw a type 1 diabetic patient who has seen an endocrinologist for 10 years. She's doing very well now — sans endocrinologist. When we first met, I made some assumptions about her level of understanding about diabetes. I didn't aske her what she knew .. I just assumed.
Turns out that she didn't know much at all about diabetes, She knew WHAT to do, but not why. Once I learned what she knew (and what she didn't) .. I was able to help her understand more completely how her diabetes could be managed.