Communication Even After….

I do not have really big issue to share, but I felt like I could share my experience on communication with family member/guardian of the patient and what impact it had on her and me.

I used to work as a charge nurse in a skilled care facility. I was a new graduate nurse, had been working only for few months as a nurse. One night, I had a new admit, who was transferred from hospital. She was a diabetic patient (it’s been a while so I do not remember her whole medical history). As I took care of her, I noticed she was hypoglycemic and nothing I was doing was raising her blood sugar, even after multiple orders from the doctor. I ran back and forth to keep her blood sugar stable, but nothing was working, so finally the doctor gave an order to send her to the hospital.  I called 911 and the emergency crew took her to the hospital. Amidst all of this and taking care of my other patients, I had completely forgotten to call her friend, who was listed as her guardian and let her know. I didn’t even realize I had forgotten to call her until next day when I heard morning shift nurse talk about how angry she was when she came to visit that patient and found out that she was not here. I also found out that patient had died in the hospital. I felt really bad that I had forgotten to call, so as soon as I found some time I took the patient’s chart and got the guardian number and called her. Since I couldn’t reach her I left her a message apologizing for not remembering to share what had happened to her friend.

After that I got busy with patient care, but there was this feeling in back of mind whole time that how could I miss that vital point of informing her family. It had bothered me the whole time. The next day when I came to work, I was on my way for the patient’s assessment. When I saw the patient’s friend coming towards me, she hugged me and thanked me for calling her and said things happen, and her friend is in better place with no more suffering and pain. I felt so relieved that she was not angry with me anymore, and that I did the right thing by calling her even though it was late. I also felt thankful the morning shift nurse let me know what had happened. If they hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have known and I wouldn’t have made that phone call. And the patient’s friend probably would have remained angry with me and the facility. Even though I failed to communicate at right time, I realized it when it was communicated to me and I felt obligated to call the family to bring emotional relief and closure to both me and the patient family. So, I totally resonate with our discussion today about how vital communication is even after that incident has occurred because it brings closure to both family and healthcare provider.