First Patient Death

by Smilie0809RN Smilie0809RN (New) New

So I lost my first patient the other day and it happened so quickly it was all just a blur. It happened within a few minutes after change of shift so I was already pretty busy. In report the day nurse actually had said to me that she didn't think this patient was going to make through the night. She was 92 and had everything wrong. Pneumonia, GI bleed, anemia, heart and kidney problems. The patient even said she wished she could end her suffering.

Anyways, at the beginning of my shift I checked in on all of my patients and she looked like she was sleeping but she was still breathing and she had some mucous in her mouth and I felt she needed some suctioning. I went and got the equipment and I came back into the room and set it up. The charge nurse from days was in the room with me. She knew the patient better than me and I guess she just wanted to check in on her before she left. Before I could set the suction up, another nurse came into the room and said that she was reading asystole on the heart monitor and sure enough she had passed. When I had first seen her at the beginning of my shift just a few minutes earlier she didn't look like she was in any distress or pain or gasping for air and even while I was setting up the suction, she didn't look like she was in distress. I just couldn't grasp what had just happened. How did it happen so quickly? She was a DNR/DNI, so once she passed I wasn't able to resuscitate, but I just don't know if I did everything I could have, and it seems as though she passed so suddenly and quietly.

Anyone else been in this situation?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 16 years experience. 226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

I do not mean to sound insensitive when I say this, but your patient had a wonderful death. She died quietly, peacefully and swiftly. She lived longer than most people. Her suffering was minimal to nonexistent. So to me, the outcome was optimal.

If you are feeling traumatized or second-guessing yourself, please be reassured that there's nothing fruitful you could have done. The circle of life starts with birth and ends with death. This was a natural death. This was a natural end to the circle of life.

Here's a hug... (((((hugs))))) You did well.

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience. 5,047 Posts

Hugs!! She was very elderly and had many comorbidities. She went quickly and painlessly, like TheCommuter said. She just happened to be in the hospital when it happened. You did nothing wrong.



Specializes in retired LTC. 7,735 Posts

... and then they just stop".

This was explained to me a very looooong time ago when I was feeling as you. It took a while to understand and accept, but it explains the cycle of life as Commuter explained.

I was always most moved when the pt "just stopped" while I was right there at the bedside.

You will grow to understand & accept as you continue your career. (((HUGS)))


iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience. 2,773 Posts

You did nothing wrong. In fact the patient expressed that she did not want to suffer anymore and she was ready.It would have been cruel not to honor her wishes so what do you think you could have done. As others have stated she had a peaceful death and truth be told it was not quick at took 92 years,