When my patient dies.....

  1. 0
    I never really expect that my patient will die, no matter how bad it seems when I take my assignment. I have been at this long enough to know that even with all the technical support in the world, the best doctors and nurse, the outcome is still out of my hands. I have seen patients who were made DNR's by the family members, and who I never expected to see again when my shift ended, sitting up in bed eating a meal and talking to visitors when I come back to work a week later. I have seen patients lying in bed, with no purposeful movement or sign of life beyond what critical drips and ventilators were accomplishing, somehow recover and leave the hospital....and come back to thank me for my care. I know it is out of my hands, ultimately, but my patient died the other night, and I grieve. Perhaps in those few hours that I cared for her, I became too attached to the family that silently watched her....I wanted her to recover for them. I wanted her to somehow beat the odds of her physical problems, and even when she was put on an external pacer, I wanted to believe that she would last the night at the very least. When I looked at the monitor there was electrical activity, but she was dying at that very moment. The family knew her condition was critical, and I think they half expected the worst, but I didn't. I expected God to somehow intervene for her, and restore what was lost. We coded her. She did not survive. I was lost somehow during this critical period. As though she was my own. I told the family what was happening during all of it....and afterward. I never shed a tear, until now. I held on so tightly to myself that my own body has felt sick and sore since then. I grieve.
  2. 6 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    *hugs*
    vivere likes this.
  4. 0
    Thank you...i wondered if i was the only one who felt this way.... I have certainly had patients pass away before, because I've had a pretty long career, and usually, I can roll with the punches, and feel I have done a good job. However, this time, I felt too much.
  5. 3
    I think it's good for us to feel "too much" occasionally. It keeps us from getting too jaded and callous. Knowing that it's good for you doesn't make it any easier though.
    fiveofpeep, blueheaven, and vivere like this.
  6. 2
    When they don't get to you occasionally, I think it's time to get out. I hope I never *don't* feel like this occasionally. I recently had a pediatric patient that I just fell in love with, along with his lovely family. Even when you have the outer shell built up, sometimes they just get through. Be kind to yourself, and then go wait for the next one.
    vivere and geminigirl11 like this.
  7. 1
    I have seen lots of people die and I think I will never not feel a sense of grief and loss at least on behalf of the patient's loved-ones. I remember being in a code recently-the excitement of doing chest compressions and the adrenaline rush of it all. When the patient finally died, I allowed myself to feel really sad too. Sometimes when other nurses or doctors see me, they ask (if they don't know me) if this is my "first death" and I just matter-of-fact say no. Do any of you ever get this reaction? It's not a goal of mine personally to harden myself around death at work. It helps me stay on top of the intensity of ICU nursing.
    vivere likes this.
  8. 1
    Quote from ghillbert
    When they don't get to you occasionally, I think it's time to get out. I hope I never *don't* feel like this occasionally. I recently had a pediatric patient that I just fell in love with, along with his lovely family. Even when you have the outer shell built up, sometimes they just get through. Be kind to yourself, and then go wait for the next one.
    I hope I never "don't" either. When it gets to the point where you feel nothing at anytime...it's time to get out. I have been in your shoes, as many of us here have. (((((((((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))))))))))))
    vivere likes this.


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