Life and Death

Healthcare professionals become accustomed to dealing with severely ill patients and death occurs frequently in the hospital setting. The Intensive Care Unit is a facility that provides intensive treatment medicine to critical patients (O’Toole, 2003). During my ICU clinical block, a patient who was 28 years old was referred for physio treatment. She haddownload-1 sustained a traumatic brain injury following a motor vehicle accident, as well as a lung contusion and several rib fractures. Doctors found out that the patient was pregnant, which she and her husband were unaware of. Following a treatment session, I was busy with note writing beside the patients bed. Her family had come visit at that time and her husband assumed I was the doctor and proceeded to ask questions about his wife’s progress. As I could not discuss any information with him, I did however discuss her physiotherapy treatment and explained that any other questions were to be taken up with the nursing staff or doctor. He found a nurse and asked if his was really pregnant and the nurse rendered the news. This news lit his eyes up with joy.

Throughout the week I continued to see the patient and by the end of the week her condition was improving. The doctors changed her mode of ventilation and I assumed that by the following Monday the patient would be weaned off the ventilator and extubated.

imagesOn the Monday, I made my way to the wards to find the patient was gone. She had passed
on the day before. All I could think of was how her husband had taken this news. She was carrying a child, a new life, she was young and had her life ahead of her. I constantly asked myself whether this was my fault. Could I have possibly treated the patient better? Was there something I did to cause her death?

These questions continued to wander my mind. After speaking to my clinician about the incident I realised that the patient’s life was not in my hands. The medical team had provided the patient with the best possible care. This was meant to be and all I could do was pray for her loved ones.dbe203fd58f47d932ca0d5919b8746df



O’Toole, M. T. (2003). Encyclopedia & dictionary of medicine, nursing & allied health(7th ed.). Retrieved from



4 Replies to “Life and Death”

  1. Hi Khurshiedah,

    I experienced a similar situation during my ICU block, but it was the foetus that passed away and not the patient. As student physiotherapists, we are still getting used to witnessing frequently occurring deaths. It is therefore fairly normal that we think about the patient and their family following the death. Due to it being our patient and having a share of responsibility in this patient’s recovery, students often tend to blame themselves or wonder if it was there fault following a death. This should not be the case as we perform and provide the patient with the best care possible. I believe that when it’s a person’s time to go, they will go and nobody is to blame.

    I liked your professionalism with regards to the patient’s husband as you only disclosed physiotherapy related information. Family communication is very important and they are often very grateful for the information received. I liked your use of pictures and images in your blog post. This made the post more interesting and it related to your discussed topic.

    Always remember to categorize and add a few related tags to your blog post. For your future blog posts, I would suggest that you do some additional reading with regards to your clinical experience, to ensure that you do not only state your own opinion but you include alternative perspectives and points of view. This will also ensure that you have more than one reference to back up your points stated. Prior to the submission of your blog post you should read over it to ensure that there are none or minimal spelling and grammatical errors, as I picked up a few minor ones whilst reading your post.

    Overall, your post was interesting to read and I think it was a clinical experience that many physiotherapy students can relate to.


  2. Hi Khurshiedah,

    This was a very intriguing post to read. It is devastating to hear such a young pregnant woman pass away so soon. I can only image how difficult it must be for her husband to accept this and live on.

    I am very pleased that you disclosed the patient’s health condition as confidentiality is most important in a healthcare professional-patient relationship. The blog post was well stuctured and I especially enjoyed the images you displayed amongst your content. It told a story and it made me even more interested in reading your post.

    Just a few changes need to be made such as: making your title more interesting and link it well with your content, add a different visual aid such as a video, add more relevant tags and categories and get more references to put into your post as one reference is not enough.


  3. Hi Khurshiedah,

    Firstly I feel that this was a very interesting post. It really drew me in and made me want to read more. I have not experienced anything similar to this but I feel like you responded to the family in a very respectful manner. I like that you used pictures throughout your post and each picture had a part to play in what you were explaining.

    A few things that you should just have a look at, it would be just make sure that your cover picture is clear and if there is writing on the picture that the reader can actually read it. Another thing is that there are a few missing words during your post, just get someone to proof read. Another thing is that (personal opinion) is that I wanted more from the post. It ended in a very abrupt way. I was very interested and it could have been slightly longer. I think add some more references to make it more substantial. But other than that it was a good read.


  4. Hi Khurshiedah. Thanks for your post. One other comment I’d like to add to what has already been said is that I think you could have explored your own reaction to the situation in more depth. You briefly mentioned your feelings about the outcome but I think you could have explored the different emotions you touched on. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, for example. What about confronting the idea of loss, and exploring an empathic connection with your patient and child? The father? While it is difficult to connect with a situation you have no experience with, that’s how empathy is developed.


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