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Andrew Weatherall: Breaking Very Bad News At DFTB17


This talk was recorded live on the second day of science at DFTB17 in Brisbane. If you think you have what it takes to speak at DFTB18 then get in touch at

Andrew Weatherall is a paediatric anaesthetist and can occasionally be spotted wearing a flight helmet whilst whizzing around in helicopters with Careflight. You may have also been lucky enough to have spotted his googly eyes in your hospital.

This talk isn’t about any of these things. It’s about what is said, and how it is said, when we break bad news. Andrew talks emotionally about being on the receiving end of some very bad news. He talks about how it was delivered and explores the experiences of other parents that have been told that their yearned for child has died. It is raw and tough to listen to. It might require some tissues but it should be heard. Unless you have been there then you cannot truly appreciate how you come across. Next time you have to have one of those hard conversations remember that it may feel bad for you, for a day, or a week, but for this couple you are talking to, it will feel bad for a lifetime.

This tweet, the most re-tweeted/favourited from #DFTB17, sums it all up.

You can listen to this talk as you walk to work on any device that supports podcasts.

You should watch his entire talk below…


Andrew has recorded an alternate version which you can find on the excellent Songs or Stories website. You will also find all of the references from his talk there. It’s well worth taking a look at some of the science behind what we do.

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