This morning I went to the hospital to start discharge planning for an urgent admission to hospice. I entered the patient’s room to talk with the family. The main family member was talking on the phone, and the others were visiting quietly, so I stood aside for a moment while I waited for the family member to finish talking on the phone.
I stepped towards the patient’s bed and placed my hand on their arm. I looked at the patient for a moment, and stopped, thinking to myself, “I don’t think this patient is breathing.” The patient’s arm was warm, but I didn’t feel a radial pulse. I watched for a moment, and did not see them take a breath.
I looked around the room. The family was chatting quietly, and the main family member was still talking on the phone. This isn’t unusual, sometimes people pass quietly and the family members fail to notice right away.
I caught the eye of the main family member, and tried to break the news gently.
“I’m sorry, but I think the patient has passed.”
The family member looked at me and said, “I know – they died early this morning.”
(The family was just hanging out, finishing saying their good-byes.)
They were all amused at my surprise. I just said, “Well, as you can see, I have excellent assessment skills!”
There is your laugh for today. You’re welcome.