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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

    Aug 12, 2020
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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.


    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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