Talking with Family in the Waiting Room – How I Do It
- Explain that the surgery is completed, seems obvious, but starts the conversation on the right foot.
- Tell them initially whether it went well or whether there were challenges – I say something like it went very smooth, or it was more challenging than what is typical, and then explain why.
- This is a very important part! Relate whether the patient was stable or not during the surgery – in a typical surgery I usually say something like “He/she did fine with anesthesia”, or “She/he was completely stable throughout, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation, and minimal bleeding”. The family usually is relieved after hearing this part of the report. It is surprising how much this part can be the most worrisome. I can talk 5 minutes about how amazing the bypass or resection went, and they still look very concerned until I tell them that they did well with anesthesia. Then the look of relief.
- Explain what was done – take your time in this part, and answer questions
- For the bigger surgical cases – I relate that the first hurdle is surgery, and the second hurdle is the first night, so still need to watch closely the BP, HR, oxygenation, and bleeding, etc.
- Now let them know where to go next, back to waiting room, or up to ICU.
Good luck, you will do great!