I think most families would assume you are intending to take excellent care of their child without you saying that. Moreover, if the care doesn't turn out as well as intended, the family could think that this less than optimal care is how you define "excellent care' since you have already told them you were going to give it, rather than trying your best to give it..     

So, I think it is presumptuous to say specifically "We are going to give excellent care to ....." because we know there can always be glitches and what we want to do doesn't always happen.  So, I usually change the statement to something like "We will do everything we can to care for Johnny/Suzie in the best way we know how. "  and follow it with a question something like "What are you most worried about?"   


Elise W. van der Jagt, MD, MPH, FAAP, SFHM
Professor of Pediatrics and Critical Care
Chief, Pediatric Hospital Medicine
University of Rochester Medical Center
601 Elmwood Ave., Box 667
Rochester, NY 14642

Tele:  585-275-8138/585-276-4113
Fax:   585-276-1128 

-----Original Message-----
From: Pediatric Emergency Medicine Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Brown, Julie C.
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2014 4:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: words and expectations


A family brings their child to your emergency department.  If you say, "We are going to take excellent care of Johnny/Suzie", how do you think this will make the patient/parent/family feel?  Will they feel reassured and comforted, or will they feel like you are self-promoting or trying to manipulate them?  Do you think this simple statement would influence their impression of the visit afterwards?  Do any of you work in institutions that encourage you to use specific statements in your interactions with families?  If so, what statement(s)?  Does anyone know of any evidence to support this?

You can follow me on twitter: @donteatmagnets

Julie Brown, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, University of Washington Attending Physician, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital,
4800 Sand Point Way NE  B-5520,
Seattle, WA 98105-0371
Office: (206) 987-4016
Fax: (206) 729-3070

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