Keir A: “Please call my baby by her name…”. Acta Paediatrica 2013. This should be self-evident, but this publication in the Acta Paediatrica ‘different view’ section notes that it is not. Knowing whether the baby is a boy or a girl, and knowing their name (if the parents have decided on one) looking the parents in the eye when you talk to them, should we really have to teach doctors to do those things? I guess we do. Annie and I with Barb Farlow have written a review article about making difficult decisions in the NICU that should be published shortly, as a little taster, here is one part of our recommendations for communicating with parents about difficult issues. (As usual this was Annie’s list initially, ‘etiquette based neonatology’, is her copyrighted term for it). The following is a section quoted from the upcoming article.
When you talk to parents:
‘-Limit the number of Health Care Providers attending difficult conversations or complicated deliveries.
-Make sure you do not get interrupted: ask a colleague to cover the delivery room or take your pager.
-A baby is not a “23-weeker” or “a difficult case of NEC”. If a baby has a name, you should know it and use it.
-Have difficult conversations in a place that is suitable for the parents.
-Do the parents want a significant support person present? Wait for that person if time permits.
-Introduce yourself to the parents.
-Explain your role in the team caring for their baby and why you are there.
-Sit down for difficult conversations.
-Listen more than you talk; tolerate silence.
Some may sigh and find this list is obvious and patronizing. Experiences of parents show, however, that these basic human interactions may be neglected