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  • Introduction
  • 1. Advance Care Planning
  • 2. Communicating Bad News
  • 3. Whole Patient Assessment
  • 4. Pain Management
  • 5. Assisted Suicide Debate
  • 6. Anxiety, Delirium
  • 7. Goals of Care
  • 8. Sudden Illness
  • 9. Medical Futility
  • 10. Common Symptoms
  • 11. Withholding Treatment
  • 12. Last Hours of Living
  • 13. Cultural Issues
  • 14. Religion, Spirituality
  • 15. Legal Issues
  • 16. Social and Psychological
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    Site Index
    Back to Module 8: Sudden Illness
    Seven Guiding Principles

    Principle 7. Consider the Impact of Stress on Caregivers

    Principle 7. Consider the Impact of Stress on Caregivers

    Caregiver Responses to Stress

    • Although this module has focused on the skills of the physician in dealing with patients and families during sudden illness, it is worth considering the stress that may be experienced by caregivers
    • Physicians and other health care professionals have their own responses to sudden illness in the patients they are caring for
    • The impact of stress on caregivers can be significant, and debilitating
    • All members of the health care team may feel stress, loss, and grief in relation to their needs, values, and hopes for patients
    • Unrecognized, these responses may lead to occupational stress and burnout


    Minimizing Caregiver Burnout

    • Particularly when the outcome is not what was initially hoped for, physicians may:
      • Experience unrealistic feelings of guilt and fear of rejection (by patients, families, or colleagues)

      • Project these feelings in unhealthy ways
    • Careful negotiation of goals of care with patients and families in light of the situation, the prognosis, and the likely outcomes will:
      • Make these distressing reactions less likely

      • Enhance the possibility of meaningful human interactions that can sustain rather than stress the clinician


    When Additional Support is Needed

    • Many clinicians find additional support necessary in order to continue functioning effectively
    • Support may come in the form of:
      • Professional counseling

      • Informally from family members

      • Religious advisors

      • Supportive colleagues, some of whom may meet regularly in small groups to discuss their feelings
    • Physicians and other professionals should learn to recognize their own need for care and set up supports that allow them to continue to function throughout these stressful situations
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