Should I tell my friend that she is dying?

  1. My friend is in the hospital and her liver has shut down. The doctors say she needs a liver transplant immediately. The doctors said it would be almost impossible for her to get a liver transplant now. She asked her husband point blank if she was dying and he told her no. Her husband said that she would not be able to handle this news and that it is best to not tell her the truth. However, I think it would be best to tell her the truth so she can make her own life decisions on this matter. Should I just butt out and go along with the lie or tell her the truth? Let me know what you think. Thanks
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  2. 34 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    You don't have to go along with the lie but you cannot volunteer the information. Let your husband know that if she asks you, you will tell her the truth. Get the doc involved also, let him know what the husband is telling her. I know he means well and wants to spare her the fear, but he is actually doing her a disservice.
  4. by   CIRQL8
    I must say, in my own opinion, that the husband was wrong to lie (or mislead) his wife. I agree with you in the respect that she should know the truth. But, also, I think that you have no right to 'butt' in on the family decisions. This is a hard one!! Every individual and every family dynamic is different. Hopefully, the husband has made the right call. I would want to know the truth. I would tell my wife the truth. It is up to the physician to over-ride the husband in this case (I would think).

    I'm so sorry for you and your friend. I hope that all works out for the best.

    Meanwhile, do what you can to just be a friend and provide emotional support for her. I am sure that she will find out sooner or later....
  5. by   CIRQL8
    Tazzi's reply posted a split second before mine!! I must say that I agree with her as well.
  6. by   Antikigirl
    NO!!!!!! They need to talk to their physician!!!!! If they don't understand enough the seriousness of the situation they are certainly uninformed about other aspects and need a sit down with their MD!!!

    It is NOT your place to give this news, and remember...even in a situation if you were the RN...we don't have the authrority or nursing diagnosis of DEATH..that is on purpose! MD's diagnose death, we do not!

    Also...if this is NOT your pt professionally...it can be a confidentialy violation big time. Even if you are privy to the info via the family...you would be diagnosing death...a big no no.

    What I would do is get the family and MD together for a sit down and have your friend write down questions to ask. Gear them for realistic discussion with the MD about the situation...because I guarentee after the discussion..they will need you more, and since you didn't open that bag of news, you will be fresh in their minds for comfort and support as they go through the grieving process! A better position for a friend .

    My sincere regrets for the state of your friend...I just lost my best friend last month this day...and it is harder than words can say. Don't forget to prepair yourself for the grieving process too! We nurses tend to try too hard to be the strong ones, and when it comes to personal losses..we get lost between the role of RN and the role of family/friend that needs to be in shock or grief (I am still struggling between the RN everyone wants to come to...and my best friends friend that is struggling to make it all make sence and let my emotions show instead of being like Spock and logical about things).

    My condolances to you and your friend...
  7. by   ranchwife
    just a few questions to start?? Are you employed at the hospital where your friend is dying?? If so, you had probably better check with your hospital policy........Lord knows you do not wanna risk your license by violating HIPAA....even for a friend!! Just make sure to dot your I's and cross your T's!! Definitely take the husband aside and gently let him know that you are aware of the grave condition of your friend and then make sure that he knows that you are "there if he or his wife need ANYTHING!!" I really do not mean to be a downer, but I just don't want to see anything happen to a good nurse because of a technical legality like HIPAA! My prayers to you and your friend as you both struggle with this!!!
  8. by   TazziRN
    Quote from TriageRN_34
    Also...if this is NOT your pt professionally...it can be a confidentialy violation big time. Even if you are privy to the info via the family...you would be diagnosing death...a big no no.
    Oh.....I missed this part. Triage is right, if you are not the nurse on the case you can't say anything because you are not supposed to know. Not even if your friend asks you. My answer was based on the assumption that you were caring for your friend in a professional capacity.
  9. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks all for your input. I do not work at the hospital where my friend is hospitalized.
  10. by   Antikigirl
    I am sorry sweety...I know how this hurts! Let the MD's or facilitate MD communication dear...it is best to hear it from the MD that knows the case and options if any. Just be there for her as a friend, support her as YOU..not the medic in you...trust me, I wished I was less of a nurse when it came to my friends death and more ME...she adored me not the nurse in me, and well...I think the nurse showed up more to protect myself from pain...something I can never undo. I wished I was just ME before she departed...I believe my last words to her were medically related...why not "hey...I love you".
  11. by   Karen_tn_37211
    It's been my experience in a "friend" situation that the MD won't even listen to me as I'm not family nor the power of attorney. Everything to the MD goes through the husband in this situation I would think.
  12. by   Flare
    I want to say that i agree with everything that everyone else is saying but wanted to add:
    Elizabeth Kubler Ross's 5 stages of grieving don't always wait to start once someone passes (actually, i think they start up right from the traumatic news being heard). Seems to me that hubby may be spending a bit of time in the denial stage. It's a slippery slope - i mean that denial may be the only shred of hope he's holding onto.
  13. by   CHATSDALE
    i would not want anyone friend or not telling my loved one that i had lied to them...i believe that he is holding out hope for a transplant..
    give him the support he needs right now..maybe he will come to the proper thing to do at the right time
    also i have found that the patient senses the truth before the family does
  14. by   gitterbug
    No, you should not get into the middle of this situation. Be there for your friend, be there for her spouse, but do not tell. This is a matter for the spouse and physicians.

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