Where appropriate place to break news about brain dead relative in ER?

  1. Went for a power walk with my OB nurse buddy. She told me she floated to ER the other day. She was pretty upset, she said there was a woman who was brought in who was in her 40s and she had pulled over her car as she drove her kids because she didn't feel well, had had some major catastrophic event at side of road, someone driving by saw kids freaking out, called EMS. Woman brought back in field with shock and intubation, neurologically devastated, decorticate or decerebate not sure which, fixed pupils etc.

    What my friend was totally indignant about was that the doctor didn't bother to break the news to the parents privately, but blurted it all out at the ER nurses station in front of the world. Since my friend was a float she told me she didn't have the nerve to speak up, but she felt like this wasn't the way to go about this.

    So, what's the scoop? Do ER doctors break devastating news casually like this? This is a one doctor ER, but my friend says that there were two doctors at the time. I told her they have overlap at shift change.

    Any imput on this?
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   EmmaG
    Completely inappropriate.
  4. by   happydays352
    Something like this happened to a family friend. A 40 yr old male suffered a stroke and the surgeon who was trying to remove the clot casually tells his wife that he is brain dead. He just told this woman and her children that their father was basically dead, that the love of her life was dead, the same way he would have told her that her shoes were untied. Unfreaking believable. I mean seriously are these people born without any compassion.

    That is just wrong, he should have pulled family into a room and privately told them, not blurted it out for the whole world to hear. I'm sure they are devastated.
  5. by   traumaRUs
    Many physicians need sensitivity training. However, the "WHERE" to tell a family bad news is not so clear cut. I worked for 10 years in a level one trauma center - many times we took families to the "family room" which was a very small room 5X7 at the biggest and we told them there. One time we had a guy put his fist thru the wall and into the manager's office! The place was so overcrowded and full that there literally was no place to have privacy.

    Am not excusing this action at all but just saying there may be other circumstances.
  6. by   leslie :-D
    it should have been a private place, regardless of where it was.
    so many hcw's, just do not know how to deliver bad news.
    but at least, a noble attempt in being sensitive, would have been far more comforting.

    leslie
  7. by   SICU Queen
    Totally inappropriate!!

    Even if there's no designated "private" place, there's still a corner, a side hall, somewhere, where the family can be devastated with a modicum of privacy.
  8. by   all4schwa
    How did the OB nurse end up floating the ER? I dont work OB, but I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what to do in the ER...
  9. by   flightnurse2b
    i can second traumaRUS though in saying that space is very limited to break news in... but none of the ER docs ive ever worked with have ever done anything like that... they've always found somewhere private to break bad news.

    i think it could have definately been handled alot better...
  10. by   FireStarterRN
    Thanks. In small hospitals staff get floated to ER to be another set of hands. OB was empty and they are required to have one OB nurse in house at all times.

    Thanks for the feedback. She is planning on bringing this to the attention of the CNO.
  11. by   woody62
    I guess my daughter was fortunate. In January of 1989 and July of 2006, I was taken to the ER near death. When my daughter arrived, she was escorted into a 'quiet' room and told of the seriousness of my injures. And they were not certain I would live thru the necessary surgery. She told me, after I was discharge in 2006, that she knew when they took her to a similar room, things were not looking good for me. Both times the ER chief and the nurse manager talked with my daughter.

    Woody

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