What do you say to a family who asks you how their family member is doing with an new infection in terms of how serious it is (life/death) in a nursing home where Ive seen some people recover from pneumomia with A/B easily and others die from it.
I always leave the "how bad is it" questions up to the doctor to answer.
Questions like these we can't honestly answer. I've had patients that present bad but eventually, with much time and to many staff member's surprise, recover. I've also had patients that seemed to be doing okay but then a few shifts later it's a whole different story.
I'll inform the family of the current treatment plan, what we are doing and what we hope to achieve but that time and response to treatment is individual to each patient's situation (I don't want to cause a loss of hope but in the same situation I do not want to give false hope either. I leave the touchy stuff for the doctor to discuss during rounds).
Same as everything NurseSpeedy said, plus, sometimes it's good to know what they've heard so far. I'll ask if they've talked to the doc at all and what they currently know about their family member's condition and prognosis. Gets a dialogue going and that way I can fill in the gaps, but I'm building off what they already know. Also helps figure out if there is a glaring misunderstanding that needs to be addressed.