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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
    Introduction to Sudden Illness

    Challenges of Sudden Illness Situations
    Objectives of this Module

    Challenges of Sudden Illness Situations

    • Situations of sudden illness are often caused by an unexpected event, such as
      • An accident
      • A sudden change in the patient’s health status
    • Sudden illness presents a challenge for patients, families, and healthcare providers, particularly when it is:
      • Severe
      • Unexpected
      • Has an uncertain prognosis
    • As in other aspects of medicine, there are features and skills that can be learned
      • Structured communication is especially important when the prognosis is uncertain

      • Goals for care may need to change rapidly as the prognosis changes

      • Discussions should include the possibility of time-limited trials

      • Sociocultural differences may need rapid and sensitive appreciation to keep urgent care consistent with the patient’s values


    Objectives of this Module

    The objectives of this module are to:

    • Describe the features of sudden illness that require special skills
    • Know how to communicate effectively in the face of sudden illness
    • Know how to guide decision-making in the face of sudden illness
    • Explain the benefits and risks of using a time-limited trial approach
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