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A reminder to ALWAYS listen to your patients.


Last night, one of our patients told a nurse (early on in the shift), "I'm crapping out on you tonight.".

Okay - PuhLease don't say that in an ICU!!

Gives me the heebee-geebees when a pt. says something like that to me.

He coded and passed away between 0430 and 0500 this morning.

Moral of the story: ALWAYS listen to your patients.

Why is it that these patients usually know when "IT" is going to happen? :stone

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I agree with you........whenever a patient tells me "something's wrong", I jump right on it, because otherwise it's likely to bite both of us in the butt at some point, usually sooner rather than later!

I also pay close attention when someone says they're going to die soon....9 times out of 10, they're right. :o

abundantjoy07, RN

Specializes in ER, Medicine.

Has any patient ever explained how he or she felt before they die? Is it a malaise type feeling or something else? As a nurse, can you just look at them and tell (not reading labs)?

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

I hate that. I had a guy a couple of years ago (I work ED) who told me, "please don't let me die." Well, he had a AAA, it dissected and out the door he went. I always believe patients.


Specializes in Everything but psych!. Has 31 years experience.

I had a patient who started saying "I'm going, I'm going" as a coworker and I were inserting a feeding tube. Yup. He died. He was a no code.

I had a guy in his 70's who asked me after I took his blood pressure if he was going to live. He was joking around, appearing very chipper. He was in the hospital for some elective surgery. 'Nothing wrong with you!" I joked back. About 30 minutes later he coded. He did make it, but now I never tell anyone stuff like that.

I had another guy in his late 30's who came in for diabetes education. His lipids were through the ceiling and his blood sugars were a close second. I told him that I was real concerned that he could have a heart attack. We need to work toward getting him back into better health. He came back to see me about 2 months later. He told me that the day after he saw me, he had a heart attack and had undergone emergency bypass surgery. He was doing quite well. I decided I'd never say that again either.

Am I superstitious, or what?

Here is one, this is when I was working as a CNA, I went in and told this resident I would be back in to help her get ready for a shower, I left towels and washcloths and she said "Do I really have to take one today?" I told her it was her shower day and I would be back in about 30 minutes to help her. She told me, I am not taking one today, I left the room and another CNA came into the room I was in about 10 minutes later and said the lady in 148 just died. This isn't really funny but I often wonder if one of the last things that she thought about was, "I told her I wasn't showering today" That was weird.

Roy Fokker, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER/Trauma.

I can't comprehend that feeling... knowing that you are at the edge.

I can't comprehend that feeling... knowing that you are at the edge.

I believe that pts do know when they are going, especially the hospice pts. I had one lady with CA, not (supposedly) near checkout time,, who did this. The CNA leaving said something like "Well, I wont be back to Monday, so take care and Laura will be in my place" The pt said (hugging the CNA) "Thank you for all you've done, but I wont be needing you by then. Im leaving 8:00 Saturday night". We were all shocked. as she was still ambulatory and beating me at Scrabble (former English teacher, LOL). Two days later, it was Saturday and the on-call scheduling coordinator called me as I was getting ready to go to work. I said "Mrs B just passed, didnt she?" She did, within a few minutes of 8:00.


Roy Fokker, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER/Trauma.

Wow! I'm getting "Thin Red Line" refferences all day today!

I wondered what it'd be like when I died, to know that this was the last breath you was ever going to draw. I just hoped I could meet it with the same calm she (Mother) did. Cause that's where it's hidden. The immortality I hadn't seen.

Marie_LPN, RN, LPN, RN

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

It gives me the creeps when a pt. told me that. I always believed them. And when i was an aide, i would tell the nurse if a res. told me that, and they would laugh at me. Unfortunately they would be proven wrong.

And every single time the code blue alarm goes off at work, i get goosebumps.


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 3 years experience.

My grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the hospital, given 3 months, and discharged home on a Sunday. He was bed bound because he was weak but otherwise doing okay. On Tuesday he asked when the grandkids were coming to visit. When my grandmother and mother told him we would be there that very weekend he said, "No, that will be too late." My grandmother and mother totally disregarded what he said because the doctor said 3 months and he seemed to be doing so well. He passed away the next day.

My father was also diagnosed with terminal cancer and I travelled to visit him every weekend for months. He asked a nurse on a Friday how long she thought he had and she said he was doing fine and it could be months yet (according to the doctor's orignial estimation it was still about 8). He was doing so well that weekend, same as always it seemed like. On Sunday I'd hugged him good bye and was turning to leave when he grabbed my hand hard, and said, "Take care sweetie, you have a good life, okay?" On Tuesday he made my mom bring him the phone so he could call his family and friends and say good-bye. Then he slipped deep into that morphine induced stupor and was uncommunicable except for a few words a few more times. The last words I heard before he slipped into a final coma were, "I'm almost dead now," and then "I'll miss you.

They know, they definitely know.

StNeotser, ASN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

I'm always amazed at the ability of some patients to hang on to wait for that last family member they want to see fly in from the east coast. It seems once they've seen everyone they want to see, then they go. People do know but I've never had anyone be able to describe the feeling to me.

Antikigirl, ASN, RN

Specializes in Education, Acute, Med/Surg, Tele, etc. Has 13 years experience.

In my facility they really don't seem to know as much, but on occasion one pops up with a I am going to die and it takes about a week after that.

The interesting thing I have noticed is that as long as their is family in the room they don't go...but send them out for lunch or a good nights sleep and yep..there they go. It is like they are holding out till they aren't in the room! I had one patient who's family wouldn't leave her side..and the poor woman needed to go (hospice and in a lot of pain and respiratory difficulty at the end)...well it happed that there was a time where only her daughter was in the room, and she went downstairs to stretch her legs and get a coffee...yep, enough time and the lady died fast before she returned. It is really wierd!


Specializes in midwifery, ophthalmics, general practice.

Has any patient ever explained how he or she felt before they die? Is it a malaise type feeling or something else? As a nurse, can you just look at them and tell (not reading labs)?

over here we say that terminally ill patients have a 'look and smell' about them. You usually know when someone is going to die. They just have a look about them. I really cant explain it more than that.


Some know and express it, and accept it...some fight to the end and will not outwardly acknowledge or accept death. We learn to treat people as individuals...their responses will be as individual as they are, in my experience.

When I worked LTC I had a lol with CHF who had just been admitted to hospice and who was doing so much better, (I thought) this lady ALWAYS walked to the dining room for every meal and one evening when I was doing her CBG she said "I think I will just eat in my room tonight" I asked her if she was feeling bad and she said "I didn't get much sleep last night and I am very tired, so I'll just eat in here and then turn in early if it is ok" I assured her that that would be fine and told her to get a good rest and she would feel better in the morning. The aide took her her tray to her as I was leaving the room and when she went back about 20 minutes later to get it the lady was dead. She had ate almost 100% of her dinner she had her dessert bowl in her left hand and her spoon in her right and was sitting up dead as could be. Was the first time I ever lost a pt. After that if a res. c/o being tired it gave me the creeps, I was like a first time mom going in every few minutes to make sure they were still breathing.

I remember a sweet little old lady in failing health, AMI in my ICU who had Alzheimers. Suddenly she started reaching upward and smiling, conversing with someone we could not see. Her family members became very upset when she told them they were angels...and tried to argue with her and 'bring her back' to reality. She hung on for quite a long time..at odds with loved ones.... for their sake.


Specializes in ICU/CCU/CVICU/ED/HS.

My Dad walked out of the plant where he had worked for 30 years (he was 59), turned to the foreman and said "I won't be back." This was a Thursday night. That night we were working on a car, he had an extinsive MI and at 0630 the next morning he had a brainstem stroke:crying2: :crying2: . I had the foreman as an MI patient about 2 years later and he told me about it.

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