My First NP Patient Death
I had one of the most difficult days I've ever had from an
emotional standpoint at work last week. There was a patient that had close
personal ties to our facility that was admitted for new onset a-fib. He was
young so we cardioverted him and thought that he would be fine. He had no
significant medical history and was in decent physical shape.
He was sent down the next day for a Cardiolyte stress test to
work-up the cause of the a-fib. This is where things get difficult. You send
your patient down for a scheduled test and then get a stat call to the area,
where you find him being resuscitated. WHAT?! What the heck?! He's coded for
close to an hour in Nuclear Medicine, while en route to the cath lab and
actually in the cath lab.
The doc does his damnedest to figure out why this patient is
still not having any type of rhythm while he is still being coded. I've never
seen a team work so well together trying to save a life. In the end, it's not
all candy and roses. We don't save everyone. Life isn't the easiest. He was the
first patient I've truly lost as a nurse practitioner and I promise you that
this case is forever etched into my brain.
It comes with the job though. Well, that's what my dad says. And
I, as a practitioner, know this. I've coded umpteen patients in my nursing
career and I've seen death. I'm not going to say that it doesn't bother me
because it's always made me sad, but from my standpoint I believe that death
isn't the end so I usually handle it ok. I think that this patient was
different for me because of the ties that he had to our facility, his age, his
wife's hysterical reaction (which is ENTIRELY understood) and just the fact
that it was completely out of the blue!
You just have to tell yourself, or at least I do, that there's a
reason for it. None of us know it and we don't understand it, but there is. And
then we just have to keep moving on. Keep saving lives. Keep helping patients
that are here right now. And remember to keep in mind that we will lose
patients, but thankfully we save so many more.
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