Can I write to a deceased patients family?

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    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
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  3. 14 Comments so far...

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    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.
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    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.
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    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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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    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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.


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