Things dying patients say

  1. I work on a MPCU. I had to RRT a DNR the other night (BP tanking, septic, not responding to fluid bolus, etc.). I RRT'd him at the attending's request, probably just to get a medical assessment on him.Anyhow, he was yelling. A lot of what he was yelling was incoherent, but not all of it. A big part of what he was yelling involved demanding that someone "Shut the ******* door!" and "Turn on (or off) the light" (it varied). The PA who came for the RRT and who often captained the team at night, said it was very common to hear moribund patients talking about doors and lights and that it never failed to creep her out. The fact that it was so common startled me; I don't think it had ever occurred to me but as I considered it, it did seem as though more than just a couple of the four or five actively dying patients I have had made some mention of doors or lights. Evidently, dying patients often see doors and either see lights or diminishing vision causes them to ask for illumination. Has anyone known this to be the case? What other things have you heard dying patients say?
    Last edit by Anoetos on Oct 11, '12
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    About Anoetos

    Joined: Sep '09; Posts: 775; Likes: 675
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Emergency Nursing


  3. by   *4!#6
    None of the people that I have cared for that are actively dying have spoken to me, but I have only cared for people on hospice care. I have cared for dementia patients who are declining and have heard them repeat bizarre phrases over again and again. I was turning one lady who hardly ever spoke, and when I turned her started yelling, "ORANGE! ORANGE! ORANGE!"

    I wonder if it has to do with the effect of hypoxia on the brain in your case?
  4. by   BrandonLPN
    I've actually found that some actively dying people who were formerly 100% confused/demented for years often have a burst of complete lucidity shortly before dying. Im not spiritual, but it makes you wonder....
  5. by   dirtyhippiegirl
    Not actively within minutes of dying or anything, but my mom *knew* she was dying. The talk started about 3-4 days before she actually died. No real change in her (chronic) condition or mental status -- I thought she was depressed because she was going to have to move. Every time I'd try to talk to her about moving, it was "I'm dying." She called the evening of the night that she passed and that was the only conversation that we'd had in the last few days where she didn't tell me that she was dying. She kept telling me that she loved me, 'tho, and I did have the fleeting thought that this could be the last conversation that I was going to have with my mom.

    Working with dying burn patients is probably a bit different. Often even the most severely burned patients are still scarily lucid and seemingly "stable" when they come in but you know that they're not going to make it. I don't actually experience this now that I'm on the unit as much but when I worked in the ED, we'd get this guys who are full-thickness 90-95% burns and we're asking for next of kin, do they want last rites, etc. before we tube them.
  6. by   not.done.yet
    I have so far only had one patient who was actively dying. Speech had left her and she was choking out bloody fluid from her lungs, death rattle, the works. She really didn't communicate at all for a couple of hours before her death. Then, in her dying breaths, her eyes shot open, she looked up to the ceiling, eyes flitting all around and started choking out "Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen!"
  7. by   Anoetos
    Another thing this poor old fellow kept saying was, "there's just nothing I can do, is there?"

    It's almost as though the futility and finality of his situation was drifting in on him, despite his dementia and delirium.