The Patient I Failed

I met her one Tuesday night, and spent that night pouring Jevity into her tube, only to suction it back out. Her legs were cool and mottled, her bowel sounds were non-existent, and her blue eyes stared blindly at a ceiling she could no longer see. The MD refused to terminate feedings, but I held them since there was no digestion taking place. The woman was turned and repositioned every 2 hours, and each time, she moaned and gurgled as her lungs slowly filled with fluid. I whispered my apologies as I did the very things to her she tried so hard to prevent. Nurses Relations Article


You are reading page 2 of The Patient I Failed

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

This is a tragic story, beautifully told.

Thank you for sharing it.


43 Posts

Specializes in ER, Pulmonary.

Thank-you for this beautifully written piece. You didn't fail this patient. I know it feels like it. Unfortunately, after that tube is placed, DNR is over with. You handled it professionally and the best to your ability. You would have found me in a closet crying after this was over. You allowed dignity to show through in this patient's last breaths. Don't ever feel guilty about having feelings. When you stop having them is when you need to get out of nursing. You are a beautiful person.


14 Posts

Specializes in ICU/Critical Care.

thanks for taking the time to so eloquently describe some of the emotions and nights that my colleagues and I work through in the ICU.


1 Post

I'm touched. And as others have said before me, please try to reassure yourself that you didn't fail her, it was her family and "the system." We do everything we can within the limits we're given - we're not the Angels that we're portrayed to be - as much as we hate to admit it. You do an amazing thing every day, you go to work and you CARE.

You told your story, and her story, so beautifully. Both have touched so many more people than they otherwise would have. I'm certain that you have changed more lives than you could possibly know. Well done.

Specializes in midwifery, NICU.


Both stories of human suffering on this thread are just so poignant..........

Heartfelt cuddles to those dealing with the outcomes, whether family members or nurses, you are in my thoughts.

This is one of the few things I've read that made me weep.

Thank you.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

16 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

Thank you for being there.


241 Posts

Specializes in none.

Thanks for telling this so beautifully. Selfishness of her daughter failed her, not the care and compassion you were forced to show her. Rest assured God sees these things.


85 Posts

Specializes in Peds,ER,FP,Med/surg/oncol, Hospice.

OMG what a sad story. I do not think that you failed this woman at all. Like said previously Her Dr and her daughter failed her. I too have seen this in the hopsital setting. I've seen DNR's overturned and people sadly having things done that they never wanted. It is such a sad sad thing. Thanks so much for a reminder on how to treat our patients with respect. Beautifully written.

I could somewhat understand why the daughter did what she did, most of the time it is hard to let go, BUT the saddest part is not respecting your parents wishes.


2 Posts

:up:It was excellent. Beautifuly written. It is a situation when we nurses compelled to do unnecessery procedures insted of leading client to a peaceful death.


105 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, ortho, rehab, ltc.

So beautifully written...Using quotes from the Living Will as if the dying patient is speaking directly to family and nurse. And she was.

Thank you for sharing this.

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