Assess patients’ understanding of their illness and future. Avoid talking after the first thing patients say; give patients the space to share.
“I’ve read through all your medical documents and what doctors know about you and your illness. I’d like to hear it in your own words so that I have a sense of what other information you might still need.”
Repeat the language you hear from your patient to encourage more participation and information from them, and to demonstrate you are listening to them.
“This did seem to start so suddenly as you mentioned, that must be quite a lot to deal with.”
Use plain language and reduce the amount of medical language.
“Your heart works like a pump that pushes blood and oxygen around your body. Unfortunately your heart isn’t pumping the same anymore.”