How to tell the family the patient has diedRegister Today!
This is a discussion on How to tell the family the patient has died in General Nursing Discussion, part of General Nursing ... Sorry for such a blunt title but this is a question I have been pondering since accepting a new...by PAERRN20 Jan 2, '11Sorry for such a blunt title but this is a question I have been pondering since accepting a new assignment. I will be working in long term care, and haven't had a day on the floor yet. However, I do work in the ER now and whenever a patient dies, the MD talks to the family, so I never have to be the first one to break the news.
Obviously I would not come out and say the patient died so bluntly. I am more worried about how to respond when the family asks questions. For example, what if I don't know the exact time of death? Do I say the patient was soundly sleeping at 0300, but on rounds at 0500 the patient had passed away? What if they are a full code and they obviously gone? Sorry for such questions but this has got me a little nervous!
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- Jan 2, '11 by DalzacAt my Hospital the Doc tells the family but they all take the nurse with them. Mostly as a comfort measure because we know the family. We answer nursing question the doc answers what happened questions
- Jan 2, '11 by JenniferSewsIn LTC I have called. It wasn't terribly unexpected and I broke the news gently but honestly. I did say the patient was checked and sleeping at x hour but when we went to check again they were gone. I felt like if it was my loved one I would take comfort that they were checked on in a reasonable time.
If they are a full code, then we do a full core regardless of how long they may have passed. When the EMTs arrive they take over. Without a doc in the building we have to do everything for a full core.
- Jan 2, '11 by Belle EpoqueIn LTC the majority of time the death is expected so you shouldn't really have to face any melodramatic reactions.
I've told countless people their loved one has passed on. Just be polite and compassionate. "I'm sorry to call so early but I wanted to let you know your dad passed away peacefully last night" is sufficient. No need to provide any detail unless asked, then be diplomatic and professional, only answer the question asked. It really isn't that bad.
- Jan 2, '11 by Been there,done thatRemember to break the news slowly.
"I am calling to give you some bad news"... pause
'I went to check on ( resident) and.... pause,
found them unresponsive"... pause.
You get the idea . It gives the family member time to process the information and makes it a little easier to take.
Good luck, definitely the most difficult thing there is to do.:redpinkhe
- Jan 2, '11 by PAERRN20Quote from JenniferSewsI understand if they are a full code we do everything....but working ER I have had more than one LTC code patient show up who obviously had passed hours ago. Not to start a debate but I am curious if you would still call EMS when the patient is mottled or cyanotic without a pulse, and the arrest was unwitnessed? What if EMS gets there are decides not to transport? How can EMS makes this decision and the RN can't? This is a whole new arena for me, having only worked in a hospital.If they are a full code, then we do a full core regardless of how long they may have passed. When the EMTs arrive they take over. Without a doc in the building we have to do everything for a full core.
- Jan 2, '11 by loriangel14I work in a hospital and I have made the call when a patient has passed. I usally just identify myself and say I am calling from the hospital to let them know that so-and-so passed passed away. I have never called after an unexpected death, they were always palliative patients that were expected to pass shortly but the families didn't happen to be present when it happened.
- Jan 2, '11 by handyrnSome places have laws and agreements with docs that you can call them and they can give verbal time of death orders. I have also seen the EMTs call the coroner and get a death order. If the patient will not be going to the ER and you have death orders they go to the funeral home. The funeral home directors come when you call 24/7 to pick up the deceased.
This has been my experience anyway from living and working in rural areas.
- Jan 2, '11 by Bruce_WayneGreat thread, I'm learning all kind of stuff in here. I agree with the tip to talk slowly and pause frequently. I think if it were me I'd try to avoid saying stuff like "I'm sorry" because it's intent might be misconstrued. If anything I'd say "my condolences"
- Jan 3, '11 by Lammy01I work on a medical unit and we constantly have people that die on our ward. I have been instructed to not use the phrases- "passed away" "gone" "unresponsive" or anything that dances around the word dead. We have to say your father has died or is dead because sometimes the other phrases can confuse family members when they are so upset and they may think there is still a chance they are still alive. Also we don't tell patient's families over the phone we ask them if the would kindly come into the hospital and we tell them when they get there unless no one is able to come. most like i sit down with them and tell them that there family member has died and ask them if they need anything and make sure they have support at home.