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Losing your First Patient


Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

I work as a float pool RN in pediatrics. Yesterday, I called in to find out where I was going and I was told to go to the heme/onc unit. No problem; I've been going to this unit many, many times over the past two years. You know you shouldn't, but you create bonds with the kids who call the hospital home for months at a time.

In morning brief we were told one of the patients wasn't doing well and wanted to be a full-code status. We assigned roles in morning brief to be more prepared. The patient ultimately coded twice, and the second time, our efforts weren't enough to bring him back. During the codes, I tried my best to remain calm and collected. It was my first code, EVER. They go over code situations pretty frequently in my hospital, but when it's the real deal.. it does something to you.

How did you cope with your first patient loss? I luckily got the day off from work today; I didn't sleep an ounce last night. Any advice to help me move forward?

Thank you

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 9 years experience.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. Death of a patient, and death of a child especially, is always tragic, and traumatic. It's impossible not to develop affection for these brave, strong, inspiring kids who fight cancer- and sometimes lose. You did everything you could, but there comes a point when their bodies just can't take any more. If your hospital has an employee assistance program, I highly suggest you look into those services. Sometimes units will do debriefing after a patient dies, and sitting down with the other staff to talk about it can be therapeutic. It also may be helpful to speak to someone on your own (EAP I mentioned above). And time will help, but you'll never forget. ((Hugs))