Hey, I had a patient yesterday and wanted to share a story, then get everyone's opinion.
A 53 year old lady with a 40 pack/yr smoking history was admitted with end-stage pulm fibrosis and stage 4 lung ca. She was made a DNR. She had obviously been a beautiful woman before lung disease got her, she had very mysterious eyes and long gray hair, very sweet and kind disposition. I was her nurse for the shift before she died.
Anyway, she pulled her oxygen off before I realized what she had done. Her sats dropped into the low 40s (with an excellent pleth that correlated with her EKG) and her rhythm changed to a-fib between 170-210, BP 60/30. Her family asked if this was the end, I said yes and then her husband said "Is there anything you can do to slow her heart rate down and bring her blood pressure up?"....loaded question for sure.
I told him I'd speak to the MD, we conferred and the decision was made to give her some diltiazem, start saline @ 100cc/h and place her back on her neosynephrine gtt. I did all this and eventually she returned to her baseline, which was poor to begin with.
Her doctor came in that morning and was upset over what had happened.
My thoughts are:
1. A DNR does not translate to Do Not Treat. I wasn't resuscitating her and if she had been in EMD it would have been a different story.
2. Her HCPOA/husband clearly stated what he wanted me to do.
3. I spoke with the on-call physician and reached the decision that we acted upon.
When my shift was over, I told her that I'd be thinking about her while I drove home....she reached out, grabbed my hand and said "I'll be thinking about you too, honey". It really moved me, I told her not to bother thinking about me and to focus on herself and her family. She smiled and that's the last I saw of her.
I'm not in trouble, her doctor isn't angry at me and I'm definitely not looking for anything resembling legal advice about DNRs. What I want to know is: do you think I did the right thing? why or why not?
I've been thinking about it almost constantly.