January 2005, Volume 35 Number 1 , p 22 - 23
© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 35(1) January 2005 pp 22-23 Breaking bad news [INSIGHTS ON DEATH & DYING: HOSPITAL VISITORS]
UFEMA, JOY RN, MS
I'm a medical/surgical nurse at a university medical center. Two times last month I had to deal with a visitor who arrived after a patient had died. In both cases, the family had left and the body had been taken to the morgue. I didn't know what to do or say, beyond suggesting that the visitor telephone the family. How should I respond if this happens again? —H.G., WASH.
The situation you describe is certainly difficult for staff. But imagine how the unsuspecting visitor feels when she's asked to “wait here please” while the staff scurries about whispering, “What should I tell her?” Even worse, imagine she arrives at the patient's room unannounced, only to find ...