Comfort Needed: First Experience with out of hospital death

  1. So tonight I was called out of my basement apartment to front of the house because the older gentleman who lived there had fallen. When I got there, he had no pulse and was not breathing, and he was frozen cold. It has been about -10 here today and we have no idea when he had fallen out outside (whether it was today or last night).

    When the paramedics got there, they debated whether to do CPR and they did end up doing it, but he didn't make it.

    Odviously I am quite shaken up over this. I know that there was nothing else I could do (unless I was there when he had fallen) but it was just something very unexpected and I'm surprised at how fast I used my assessment skills and relayed information to the paramedics.

    I just needed to get this off my chest, as I already have anxiety issues and am trying to keep myself calm over this situation knowing that there was nothing else that I could have done. Just a bad situation overall.
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    About nikki_nurse

    Joined: Nov '07; Posts: 69; Likes: 19
    Med/Surgical and Camp; from CA
    Specialty: 1 1/2 year(s) of experience


  3. by   traumaRUs
    Out of hospital deaths can often be sudden and traumatic. I'm sorry for your loss and your sense of helplessness. This is a common emotion in this circumstance. Please know that anything you did or didnt do - it sounds like this poor gentleman was actually dead long before you came on the scene.
  4. by   Stcroix
    It is good of you to care. You may very well find that using your assessment skills and dealing with a real situation like this can actually help you with your anxiety issues. I have found severe stress such as this (and coming out of it whole) have grounded me. Glad you came here to "get this off your chest".
  5. by   nurseprnRN
    You did fine. He was dead before you got there, and if he was very elderly and debilitated he actually had a pretty decent death-- death by hypothermia is not painful and if something else killed him it was quick.

    You did well describing the situation to EMS. It's amazing how our training and experience kicks in on autopilot in situations like this. Unfortunately, since you were not at work or with the EMS crew you have no other outlet for a debriefing. Coming here to get it off your chest was a good decision.
  6. by   AnonRNC
    This is not about whatever anxiety issues you may have! Facing death is traumatic no matter who you are. It's okay to feel shook up. It will pass soon.
  7. by   nikki_nurse
    Thanks for the comments.

    They think that he had a heart attack or something along those lines.

    I thought that I would be more shaken up and having my anxiety increase (also due to other issues going on in my life) but I've been able to rationally go through the event and realize that there was nothing else that I could have done. I was impressed at how my nursing skills kicked in right away.

    So as bad as a situation this was, I'm glad that I was able to share my feelings here and that I'm doing ok.