When all goes well, obstetricians are part of the joyful scene when a new baby is welcomed to the world. But in cases of miscarriage or stillbirth, it can be difficult to know what to say to grieving parents. Osteopathic ob-gyn Ronald J. Librizzi, DO, of Vorhees, New Jersey, recently co-authored an article in Contemporary Ob/Gyn on how ob-gyns and other health professionals who work with expectant mothers can be sensitive and empathetic while delivering bad news. Dr. Librizzi’s suggestions include:
- Deliver the bad news gradually and let the patient know that finding out what caused the loss will be a priority.
- Take time to express your sorrow and empathy with statements such as, “I’m so very sorry this has happened to you.” Such language is not an admission of guilt or clinical responsibility, Dr. Librizzi notes; instead, it’s a way to convey your compassion and support.
- Avoid statements like “Miscarriage is very common,” or “At least you have other children,” as this type of language minimizes the patient’s loss.
- Be sure the loss is prominently noted in the patient’s medical record so staff and clinicians have it top-of-mind in future interactions with the patient.
- Work closely with staff from your hospital’s perinatal bereavement program, if there is one. Also seek out community resources for pregnancy loss.
To learn more, read Dr. Librizzi’s article in Contemporary Ob/Gyn.