Course Summary

Breaking Bad News

Course Description

“Breaking bad news” can be daunting, but this virtual one-day training session will provide delegates with the knowledge, tools and the confidence to deal with communication of harmful incidents, in particular informing families about patient deaths. 

We will look at: 

  • the fundamentals and the importance of good communication in a clinical context
  • the policy context and legal framework: 
    • Being Open
    • PSIRF
    • The duty of candour (statutory and professional)
    • The status of apologies
    • Confidentiality, and the role of family in decision making
  • Perceived barriers to a bad news call, and breaking them down
  • The approach to the call 
    • Why to make the call? 
    • Who should make the call?
    • When to call?
    • What should be said? and 
    • How? 
    • Documentation 
    • Following up in writing
  • Review of several models to support breaking bad news 

The emphasis will be on practicality, reviewing real case studies, and sharing experiences among the group.  

Delegates will learn:

  • The fundamentals of effective communication in a clinical context
  • How to work with the duty of candour, information sharing, confidentiality and Being Open / PSIRF policies and legal framework
  • How to make an apology, and why this is no admission of liability
  • How to approach the call to break bad news – identifying and overcoming perceived barriers 
  • How to document and follow up in writing. 


09.00am to 09.15amLogon, housekeeping, overview and introductions
09.15am to 09.45am Experience of breaking bad news, and aims for the day 
09.45am to 10.30amCommunication in the clinical context, the role of family, and perceived barriers to breaking bad news
10.30am to 10.50amCoffee Break
10.50am to 12.30pmThe policy and legal framework – Being Open, PSIFR, duties of candour, confidentiality and apologies.   
12.30pm to 1.15pmLunch
1.15pm to 2.30pmMaking the call – why, who, when, what and how?  
2.30pm to 2.50pmTea Break
2.50pm to 3.45pmVarious models for the approach to the call; documentation, written follow up
3.45pm to 4.00pmSummary, questions, conclusion and feedback

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