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“Call The Family. Let Them Know She Passed Away.”

Discussion in 'Hospital' started by The Good Doctor, Oct 12, 2021.

  1. The Good Doctor

    The Good Doctor Golden Member

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    She was an ICU downgrade. Hospice care is what they told me. We added her name to our list, and my senior resident told me she was now my patient. I did not have a clear story. Sepsis? Complications? The ICU note was lengthy. Rounds were coming up, and I needed to see all my patients.

    I went into her room. She was breathing slow. Oxygen saturation dipping. Unconscious. I asked the nurse about the patient. She did not know much. Comfort care is all I knew. I listened with my stethoscope and heard the coarse and forced breath sounds. I analyzed the vitals. It looked like the time would be soon.


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    A behavioral crisis was then called. The patient involved was another on my list. I had to handle that now. Was it even 9 a.m.?

    When that was resolved, nursing notified my team. My patient from the ICU had passed away.

    “Call the brother,” my senior resident told me.

    Time of death 9:41 a.m.

    I barely knew the patient. They had just been downgraded to us. I did not know the story. Am I the right person to call the family?

    “Call the brother.”

    I grabbed the phone. I scanned the chart and searched the internet seeking the right words to say.

    What was I doing?

    What would I want to hear if this was my sibling?

    Just be a human.

    I called the brother.

    They say it gets easier.

    I have been told you become numb.

    Maybe, the first phone call is the worst. I’m not sure.

    It feels a bit polarizing. To tell the world of a death and then move on and put in another patient’s diet orders. I knew this patient for a few minutes. I did not know her story.

    What I do know is this: I had the privilege of being the last one to care for her, even if it was only for a moment.

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