It was a casual Monday afternoon and I was looking forward to my boyfriend coming home from his OBGYN rotation. It has been a few weeks now and he always had so much excitement given that it is one of my potential career choices. But this afternoon was different. There was a sadness in his eyes.
“I saw a mom in labor and delivery die today after she delivered, it was a possible amniotic embolism.”
All I could offer at that point was a warm embrace because I was truly speechless. I mean yes, I had heard of patients dying while working with various attendings. But I could never imagine the moment, seeing someone that I had made a potential connection with, pass away. He further explained that the team had done everything in their power to save her, in fact, no one had even predicted that a tragedy would be the outcome of her birth.
“How do you think you would have handled it?” I thought about that question and I still do ponder the thought time to time. How would I handle death? Would I go back to work or take the day off? Would I express my feelings or just keep my thoughts to myself? I don’t quite have the answer to all of those questions, but I think that it’s important to consider them. Because I know that in my career as much as I don’t want to, I will have to witness one of my patients die. I am grateful that my school has done an excellent job of introducing the topic and helping us untangle these questions along with providing us with resources to handle such situations.
I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and stories about how you have or would handle your patients’ death.
Mary Gerdt says
You never forget the young ones, the ones who have their whole life ahead. Do the best you can.