Lying to your patient???

  1. My patient yesterday was a 21 y/o w/ multiple gunshot wounds. She was 34 weeks at the time, and the baby died. The problem is....the doctors have told her that her baby died, but her family is telling her otherwise. I was standing outside of the door during visitation and I overheard her ask her father if her baby died, and he said "No, we have pictures of it at home. You will see your baby when you get home." Am I wrong for not telling her that her baby died after her dad told her it was alive? She has not asked me about the baby at all, but if she does I don't know how I will tell her that she lost the baby. Any advice??
    Last edit by TraumaICURN on Mar 30, '07
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   lovejana22

    i can not understand why the family would do this. about 15 years ago my aunt was in an accident when she was 1 week away from being due. the baby died unfortunately my grandmother and other family would never have lied to her. of course she was devastated. i do not see how lying would benefit the patient at all.
  4. by   KaroSnowQueen
    I would notify both the doc and social services so they can schedule family conference and then someone - family, doc, both - can tell her the truth.
  5. by   tatgirl
    I agree with the above poster. Notify the doctor. for the life of me, I can not understand why her family would lie to her. The patient needs to know the truth.

    Wendy LPN
  6. by   Medic/Nurse
    Wow, this is a tough case.

    I'm so sorry that you have been involved in this - it must be very difficult to be "therapeutic" when the family dynamics are so, well ... damaged.

    I, too, recommend that you get pastoral care/social work/ethics departments involved pronto! Ultimately, I think the patient has the RIGHT to be fully involved in her own care and recovery - a process that CANNOT begin with denial.

    I am guessing that your patients survival is no longer in question(?) ... meaning - was this "lie" told to her when she was on the brink of death and just not corrected or was it something else? In any event, assuming that her "survival" is not at immediate risk this MUST be corrected at once. I'm not advocating EVER lying to a patient, but I have supported a brief trial of omission in certain patients in very limited circumstances over 16 years.

    I hope that all works out well for you and your patient. It is a sad situation. Grief has no rules and does not discriminate. She is blessed to have you caring for her. Prayers to all.

    :angel2:
  7. by   meownsmile
    I agree with the others. Make sure the doctor and social services know the situation. I am guessing though that this patient actually knows the truth but is looking for compassion and verification from her family. They arent giving it, but im sure she is seeing the truth on their faces. She just isnt ready to confront them yet.
    Im sure she is questioning in her mind why they havent brought the baby, new pictures etc if the baby is ok. Thats just not something you DONT do when you want someone to recover. You would encourage them with bringing the baby, pictures and discussing the child with them. Not avoiding it.
  8. by   TazziRN
    I agree, the doc needs to be informed.

    What the family is doing is wrong, but it's understandable. They're trying to spare her the grief right now so that she can heal; they think she is not strong enough to handle the news right now. They don't understand that their good intentions may backfire and she may never forgive them for lying to her, but they mean well. They need to be educated.
  9. by   AnnieOaklyRN
    Oh goodness!! I would do what you have been doing and tell her the truth. I was also sit down with maybe a social worker and the family and tell them why it is very important that they tell her the truth now so that she can start the greiving process.

    swtooth
  10. by   TazziRN
    Saw, why not give the family a chance to do the right thing? Tell them "If your daughter/sister asks me about the baby I will tell her the truth," and explain why you will not lie (gently!). This way you can do some family teaching.
  11. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from TazziRN
    Saw, why not give the family a chance to do the right thing? Tell them "If your daughter/sister asks me about the baby I will tell her the truth," and explain why you will not lie (gently!). This way you can do some family teaching.
    I agree with this - get the doc and social worker and/or chaplain involved now. Give this grieving family a chance.

    steph
  12. by   Lorie P.
    you should definitely get the docs, pt reps, pastor and social services involved!! This poor patient needs the truth and remember you are the advocate for the pt!!
    Good-luck!
  13. by   BabyRN2Be
    There's a few things I just wanted to get clarified so I have a more accurate picture. In the original post it was stated that she was "34 months" pregnant. I'm really not trying to be flip, but was it meant that she was 3-4 months pregnant or 34 weeks?

    Has the baby been delivered if it was at 34 weeks? Or are they buying time for her by letting a natural m/c to take place?
  14. by   TazziRN
    Ohhh, good question. If 3-4 months it makes no sense to tell her the baby's in another part of the hospital, since babies don't survive when born that small.

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