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Sudden death of my dad. Where can I go for answers?

Buckie Buckie (New) New

My dad that just passed away 1 month ago had respiratory problem and coughing everyday for about 2 years. His oxygen was almost always good along with his blood sugar check daily. BP is pretty stable.

Recently about 8 months ago he had been coughing up small amount of blood in mucous at times. Then gradually small droplets of blood found on the floor. Xray scan were normal. Pulmonary doctor was not that concernand only prescribe regular med.

22 days before he passed away, I took him to the ER to get check up because more blood was coming out. CT scan, xray, lab was nothing special. They wanted to admit him for monitor for possible TB. He left AMA in the ER because he doesnt want to be isolated for possible TB again. They also told me that he was supposed to see an infectious disease doc a year ago after discharge. When he was discharged a year ago, no one told us that or wrote it down?

Last month he was unconcious on the floor pulseless. Mom called 911 right away. CPR was not effective. Autopsy shown cause of death "severe coronary artery disease" secondary to "cardiomegaly" with onset of symptoms "years" HOW???? The whole time he was having lung problem. There was no DX of any heart condition. What happen to the recent xray did they not see that his heart was larger than normal?

I am still puzzled. I just need closure. My family already accepted it but his cause of death has always been on my mind ever day. I was thinking of calling the hospital for explanation but how go about from there?

-I'm a new LVN.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I am very sorry to read about the recent death of your father. However, unless legal papers had been signed giving you access to your father's protected medical information, it would be illegal for anyone in the health system to give you additional information. That would be a violation of HIPAA.

I suggest you talk with you mother. She may have some additional information -- or she may be willing to help you arrange an appointment with your father's physician so that you can ask your questions.


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

{{{ HUGS}}} to you.

Due to HIPAA, you will need to have difficulty obtaining your fathers medical info, unless he had your mother or you listed as medical surrogate. Did your father have a PCP + was your mother given permission to receive medical info about your Dad?. If so, your mom can contact PCP to ask for meeting with you re his long term health problems, especially ones that are hereditary. Your mother may be able to submit request to hospital for last years hospitalization records.

It is hard to deal with the sudden passing of a parent, especially if first time dealing with a family members death. Hope you can get some answers to aid in closure.


Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 35 years experience.

Hello. Let me start by offering you my condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father.

I’ll try to keep this short based on experiences with my own father and a few professional experiences, and as sympathetic as I possibly can.

Unless your father had someone with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s impossible to know what the disclosures were made between your father and his healthcare team, and what that team was allowed to discuss with (or in front of) family members. His choosing to leave AMA in regards to possible TB infection isolation raises a red flag to me simply because, in my professional experience, a suspected contagious individual doesn’t get to just walk away like that.

Perhaps there has been something more going on with him for some time that he didn’t want you to know or worry about, that could affect your mindset enough to alter your studies or future. I’m not going to even delve into disease processes because again, based on my experiences, I feel it is better that you try to focus on your own healing now.

I still have my father, even though there was a close call in 2016 that could have gone ALL KINDS OF WRONG. But that just let me know that dear old dad’s strong sense of privacy and love for his family is more important to him than the help that his ONLY nurse daughter could provide.

So please accept this virtual ((hug)) and I pray that you get the strength you need to carry on. And one bit of professional advice, if you haven’t already done so, have all those applicable be tested for TB.

Take Care...

I'm so sorry.

After talking to your Mom and his doctors you might need to get a lawyer involved. You can consult most lawyers for free.


Specializes in nursing ethics.

Or as another idea, try the Griefhealing forum for support. It's not medical.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

I am so sorry for your loss. I realize that you want to know what caused your father's death. I am shocked that the pulmonologist thought a cough causing blood on the floor was okay. However, you still need to try you get your answers there. Elaine M had good advice.

The hospital cannot help you.

When I had questions about my husband's sudden passing, I hired a doctor to do an autopsy that I paid for. To this day, I don't know how I managed to do that. The doctor gave me a written report and succinctly gave me the answers that all others involved were so diligently trying to keep from me. Of course, I could do this because I was his wife. You would run into the problems previously mentioned. Unless you anticipate possible legal action, I would not pursue it that far. My deepest condolences. Grieving is always worse when there are unanswered questions.

On 5/4/2020 at 12:14 PM, Buckie said:

Autopsy shown cause of death "severe coronary artery disease" secondary to "cardiomegaly" with onset of symptoms "years" HOW???? The whole time he was having lung problem. There was no DX of any heart condition. What happen to the recent xray did they not see that his heart was larger than normal?

General comment.

CAD is not secondary to cardiomegaly; when the two are related it's the other way around. CAD takes years to develop, that's why the onset of the COD was listed as "years." (Not a direct statement about your father individually, but rather general scientific knowledge).

CAD is something that may (relatively) quietly develop alongside any other related or unrelated issues. According to your post, at the time that he sought care through the ED r/t hemoptysis and had a CXR as part of his work-up, they recommended admission in order to further evaluate his issues. The ED's role is not to fully investigate every abnormality but to gather information in order to understand what further immediate care is required to evaluate and treat/stabilize the matter at hand.

You have my sympathies/condolences. This must be so incredibly difficult. I agree w/ peers above, maybe your mother would be interested in helping you access additional information that is more specific to your father's situation.

Check in with your own physician if you have concerns about what any of this might mean with regard to your own present or future health.

((Take care ~))

Thankyou everyone. I really appreciate it.