Finally, in the news for nurses this week, I bring you a look at a story I picked up out of the Kaiser Health Network site. It looks at the challenges faced by nurses and other healthcare professionals when dealing with frequent patient death and dying. The story is of one trauma nurse who runs into dying patients all the time.

Recognizing Death in Healthcare Setting

Woman dying on the tableIn the story, their trauma team struggles to save a difficult patient who then dies. They just move on without any recognition of what happened and try again on the next patient. This continuous facing of death and dying can take a toll on the nurses and other health care professionals who deal with it.

The nurse in the story tells a tale of one such situation where a hospital chaplain came in just as the patient died and, after the patient was pronounced dead, told everyone in the room to stop and pause for a moment while he prayed over the patient. While not everyone was comfortable with the prayer, they talked later and discovered that the pause felt, well, right somehow.

So the next time a patient died, the nurse decided to do something similar. There was no prayer, but the nurse said he just stopped everyone for a moment and asked them to recognize the life of the person in the center of the room who had family who loved them and had led a life on this planet before they died. After the pause, the nurse simply thanked everyone for their efforts and then told them to go on with their duties. The rest of the team thanked him for his pause.

Pausing to Recognize Death in Hospital and Beyond

This concept of the pause after death has spread throughout their hospital with very positive effects on staff morale. It is now being taught in the curriculum of the University of Virginia nursing school and even EMS crews are picking up the practice for deaths in the field.

It all started with a nurse who recognized a needed intervention and applied it to the underserved patients in his care, in this care his co-workers. Kudos to him for innovation and recognizing a need that had a surprisingly simple fix.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Kratom Poison Center Issues and Episode 366.

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