Can I write to a deceased patients family?

  1. 0 Hello, I work in a hospital and had a patient pass unexpectedly under my care for natural causes. The family went out of there way to send me a card and a small token to show their appreciation for my support during this most difficult time. Am I overstepping any boundaries by sending the family a sympathy card /thanks for this nice gesture? In doing this I would need to find their address from medical records or my manager. What do you think? Thankyou
  2. Visit  Rn112389 profile page

    About Rn112389

    Joined Jul '13; Posts: 8; Likes: 3.

    14 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  BerryHappy profile page
    1
    Omg no no no!!! Do not do it! You stated that the patient died unexpectedly so even though right now the family is feeling all kind and nice towards you that could change on a moments notice. What you could end up with is a lawyer trying to use your kind words in return as admission of guilt for either you or your facility. I have spent most of my career in hospice and I have come to (almost) fall in love with some of the families I have worked with, even though they have knowingly put their loved one on hospice there is almost always that one bad apple who see's me as the angel of death and would love to sue me or my company if given the chance.

    Please do not open yourself to the possibilities. Sometimes for my closure I look for my dear patient's obit, and I have even heard of nurses quietly attending funeral services but DO NOT put anything in writing!

    I am sorry for your loss but you must protect yourself.
    Last edit by BerryHappy on Jul 9, '13
    NurseDirtyBird likes this.
  4. Visit  llg profile page
    1
    Talk with your manager and get some guidance as to how your employer wants to handle this. A thank-you note might be appropriate for the gift ... but that would need to be handled very delilcately. And your employer might want you to return the gift.

    To simply ignore it would be rude, but you should get guidance from your employer in your handling of the situation so as to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
    NurseDirtyBird likes this.
  5. Visit  Rn112389 profile page
    0
    Thankyou for both of your input. My manager did provide the family with a route of communication to me so I agree seeing her for this matter would be appropriate. I also agree with BerryHappy that I should protect myself but I would not like to ingore the gesture. Thanks again
  6. Visit  chrisrn24 profile page
    0
    Quote from llg
    Talk with your manager and get some guidance as to how your employer wants to handle this. A thank-you note might be appropriate for the gift ... but that would need to be handled very delilcately. And your employer might want you to return the gift.

    To simply ignore it would be rude, but you should get guidance from your employer in your handling of the situation so as to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
    This.
  7. Visit  Poochiewoochie profile page
    1
    Quote from BerryHappy
    Omg no no no!!! Do not do it! You stated that the patient died unexpectedly so even though right now the family is feeling all kind and nice towards you that could change on a moments notice. What you could end up with is a lawyer trying to use your kind words in return as admission of guilt for either you or your facility. I have spent most of my career in hospice and I have come to (almost) fall in love with some of the families I have worked with, even though they have knowingly put their loved one on hospice there is almost always that one bad apple who see's me as the angel of death and would love to sue me or my company if given the chance.

    Please do not open yourself to the possibilities. Sometimes for my closure I look for my dear patient's obit, and I have even heard of nurses quietly attending funeral services but DO NOT put anything in writing!

    I am sorry for your loss but you must protect yourself.

    When my Mom died we received a sympathy card that was signed by everyone from the hospice that we used for my Mom.
    GrnTea likes this.
  8. Visit  VampyrSlayer profile page
    0
    When my dad died we received a card signed by the staff at his LTC he lived at. Although I was not happy with them about how they handled his last day alive, it was a nice gesture. Check with your manager, if it seems too personal maybe have other staff members sign it too?
  9. Visit  loriangel14 profile page
    1
    I think it would be a nice gesture. I wrote a note to the family of a former patient that I had known for several years.They were very grateful.
    GrnTea likes this.
  10. Visit  chrisrn24 profile page
    0
    Quote from Poochiewoochie

    When my Mom died we received a sympathy card that was signed by everyone from the hospice that we used for my Mom.
    That's different as that is a sanctioned thing from the hospice. This is an individual nurse doing this outside of her job.
  11. Visit  Poochiewoochie profile page
    0
    Quote from chrisrn24
    That's different as that is a sanctioned thing from the hospice. This is an individual nurse doing this outside of her job.
    The person I responded to was from hospice-they made it sound like it was some kind of cardinal sin to send a note such as the one the OP mentioned.

    The funny thing is that when I had to put my dog to sleep in '95 I received a condolence card from the vet clinic who took care of her but received nothing from the NH who claimed to think so highly of my Mom. Sending a condolence card is in no way an admittance of guilt so I don't know why some people make a mountain out of such a molehill.

    The real problem is accessing the person's health records to get the family's address. To me that seems the more serious issue with sending a card like this.
  12. Visit  amoLucia profile page
    2
    Did their card come thru the US mail with an address on it??? Personally, I wouldn't go thru medical records - I would fear some HIPAA regulation or something.

    Funeral homes usually will forward condolences to the family so check with them.

    Hospital may be different because it is more short-term. I do LTC so I would have NO PROBLEM sending a blank card with my message - "Thank you for your kind gesture and wish you well during this time of loss". Something like that.

    KISS it - Kept It Short & Simple. Nothing more.
    GrnTea and NurseDirtyBird like this.
  13. Visit  jadelpn profile page
    1
    Quote from Rn112389
    Hello, I work in a hospital and had a patient pass unexpectedly under my care for natural causes. The family went out of there way to send me a card and a small token to show their appreciation for my support during this most difficult time. Am I overstepping any boundaries by sending the family a sympathy card /thanks for this nice gesture? In doing this I would need to find their address from medical records or my manager. What do you think? Thankyou
    Lovely thought, however, unless you knew them outside of the facility, don't do it. If you have to get an address from the record, that is where it gets into violation territory. I am sure that when presented with a card and gesture that you said some nice words, thanked them well, expressed your sympathy on their loss. That is enough.
    Poochiewoochie likes this.
  14. Visit  NurseDirtyBird profile page
    0
    It's one thing if it's a sympathy card sent by the facility, signed by all staff. It's something totally different if it's from one individual. I wouldn't, especially because you would have to get the info from the medical record without needing it to provide care - a HIPAA violation.
    A previous poster mentioned condolences through the funeral home. As the name of the funeral home is usually published in the obit, that might be a route you could take.
    Ask your manager. You may be seen as a representative of the facility in doing this, and they may not like it if it's done without their knowledge.


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