Today I was too busy

  1. Today I was too busy . Too busy to comfort a dying man and his son . I remember being grateful that his son was present because I just didn't have the time . As I whizzed by his room all day tending to different things , I stopped in briefly to check on them , no more than a minute, didn't have time . I rushed to finish paperwork and get new orders . A son sat and held the hand of the man who taught him how to ride a bike , drive a car and deal with life. The man expired as his son held his hand , I did my assessment and managed a quick "I'm sorry " . But another pt was having problems and off I go again . We were too short staffed . As this son called his brothers and sisters and family , I ran up and down the busy hallway . On one of my passes down the hallway I overheard a few staff members joking at the nurses station right outside the mans room . We did the necessary death related things and the family departed and the funeral home came to pick up the body . I finished the day two hours late . I got into my car and as I did everyday relived the day in my head . Yes I had done everything I needed to do .The paperwork was done . But I had been too busy today to comfort a dying man and his family . I am looking at myself differently tonight . Guilt , yes . Am I really that jaded a person ? I have experienced death many times but never have I been so busy that I could not find a moment to respect a life among us . I dont like myself very much tonight .
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    About xmaxiex

    Joined: Jul '03; Posts: 121; Likes: 9
    LPN

    19 Comments

  3. by   bellehill
    You did your best. You did not fail that patient or their family, the hospital did by causing you to work short-staffed. A perfect example of healthcare today. Please don't feel guilty or beat yourself up, you are a wonderful nurse in a difficult profession.
  4. by   DDRN4me
    Go easy on yourself, xmaxiex, you did what you were physically able to do. The son knew you were there, even though you did not sit with them, you let your presence be known. He will probably rmember you as the nurse who let him sit quietly with his dad as he passed; not the one that was too busy to do what she wanted to do. i wish you peace.
  5. by   wannabenursetx
    Maybe you're being too hard on yourself! I'm not yet a nurse, so maybe I'm talking out of turn, but it sounds like to me that you did everything that needed to be done for him. I'm sure you wish that you could have spent more time with him, but as busy as you were, I don't think there's anything else you could have done. Try not to beat yourself up about this - I'm sure you are an excellent nurse! As someone who has wrestled with this decision (whether to go into nursing) I'll be honest and tell you this is one of my greatest fears - the lack of time to be at the bedside talking and spending time with the patient. I just wish there were simple solutions for this, but with so many hospitals being so shorthanded, it doesn't sound like there's any way around it. Don't mind telling you, though, that it scares me!:uhoh21: If my main reason for going into nursing is to have hands-on time with the patients, how will I handle not being able to do this?
  6. by   jnette
    I hear you. So very sad, isn't it?

    I can empathise with your feelings, and I know how troubling they are.

    This is something only WE can change. We must put the world of work on hold at times like these... and make ourselves STOP. Everything else will still be there.. the paperwork, the charting, the other patients demandidng this or that.

    But the dying patient WON'T be.

    He deserves the moment.. no matter how brief. He deserves to be looked in the eye and made to feel his life, now rapidly expiring, is valued. He deserves the touch of the hand, and the family deserves the tenderness and compassion of the spoken word. Everything else can wait... for it will still be there after you have given a dying man the respect and acknowledgement he deserves.

    The way you feel now will move you to do what you wanted to do this time, NEXT time. It is from reliving these moments that we find where we could have done better.

    ((((HUGS))))

    Thank you for caring enough to have been bothered by it. That is the first step in the right direction.
  7. by   RN4NICU
    Don't be so hard on yourself. Your other patients needed you too. Unfortunately the staffing issues that haunt most nursing units leave us with not enough time to provide the kind of care that our patients deserve. It's not like you were in the break room eating donuts - you were safeguarding other lives.
  8. by   NewEastCoastRN
    The fact that you are feeling this way just shows how good of a nurse you are. I have had many days like that you have described. They are extremely frustrating and are a reason why many nurses become disenchanted with the profession. Just remember that there will be many times in the future when you will be able to provide the personal care that patients deserve. What happened today was not a reflection of your integrity or ability, it is just a reality of our work environment today. Take care of yourself, and keep up the good work
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I am so sorry. Sounds to me as if you did the best you could. Bless your heart. I am so sorry.
  10. by   11:11
    I believe I can feel what you just went through.

    I have experienced situations just like this and have felt the same way.

    Truth is we amost never quite know what families think or believe about us, after theyre past their crisis and can think clearly. It still suprises me when I recieve a kind note, or one is sent to the unit thanking the staff.

    Today I feel more of a secretary for the "healthcare team" than a front line care provider. Sometimes I feel as though I spend more time on the phone with MD's, or getting lab to do their job, or other ancillary depts for that matter.

    Then again sometimes I think we are too present in times of dying.

    I hope that when my time has come I may die outside the hospital, at home, or at sea-

    11
  11. by   begalli
    "Am I really that jaded a person?"

    I think if you were this person, you would not have come here now to express your respect for that life.

    Thank you xmaxiex. Your words touch us all.

    :icon_hug:
  12. by   akcarmean
    ((((((HUGS)))))) You did your best. Let it go at that and then do what you need to do next time.


    Angie
  13. by   trvlnRN
    Quote from xmaxiex
    Today I was too busy . Too busy to comfort a dying man and his son . I remember being grateful that his son was present because I just didn't have the time . As I whizzed by his room all day tending to different things , I stopped in briefly to check on them , no more than a minute, didn't have time . I rushed to finish paperwork and get new orders . A son sat and held the hand of the man who taught him how to ride a bike , drive a car and deal with life. The man expired as his son held his hand , I did my assessment and managed a quick "I'm sorry " . But another pt was having problems and off I go again . We were too short staffed . As this son called his brothers and sisters and family , I ran up and down the busy hallway . On one of my passes down the hallway I overheard a few staff members joking at the nurses station right outside the mans room . We did the necessary death related things and the family departed and the funeral home came to pick up the body . I finished the day two hours late . I got into my car and as I did everyday relived the day in my head . Yes I had done everything I needed to do .The paperwork was done . But I had been too busy today to comfort a dying man and his family . I am looking at myself differently tonight . Guilt , yes . Am I really that jaded a person ? I have experienced death many times but never have I been so busy that I could not find a moment to respect a life among us . I dont like myself very much tonight .
    What a sad story... I think too many of us hate to admit that we experienced similiar situations. I've long thought that hospitals should have a hospice type of pallative care program not only to educate families and staff but to provide additional staffing assistance towards the end.
    Since that is not the case...perhaps we should suggest to whomever does the patient assignments on our particular units that we could give a nurse a lower patient assignment if they have a patient who is terminally ill, a DNR, and death is approaching. Or perhaps, we as fellow nurses can recognise this situation and help that nurse with her patient load or duties so that they are able to spend more time with that patient and their family to make sure their needs are met. Wouldn't we want that for our families? The really sad thing about this story is that it reminds me of what I origionally went into nursing to do...but was never given the time to do it. Very sad. This really makes me think. Thanks for sharing.
  14. by   Tweety
    It only means you care. I know what you mean and hear you loud and clear. Excellent posts from the others.

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