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 had 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.
On 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.
O’Toole, M. T. (2003). Encyclopedia & dictionary of medicine, nursing & allied health(7th ed.). Retrieved from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/intensive+care+unit