Recently, on a busy day in the ED, a teenage boy came in as full trauma. The patient's injuries, sustained in a terrible car accident, resulted in his death. Dana Burnett was this young man's nurse, and her compassion was extraordinary. I believe that her exceptional care allowed the patient's parents to find a modicum of closure.
The parents of the patient were, understandably, devastated when informed of their son's death, and they wanted to see him. The ER Doctor told them that his injuries were profound and warned them that it might be difficult for them to view. While the doctor did not do anything wrong, the description left too much to the imagination of the grieving parents, and they started to wonder if they really wanted to see him. They were then distraught over the idea that they could not see him, and they would miss that opportunity to say goodbye.
Dana recognized that their grief was becoming overwhelming to them and was truly affecting their decision making. She took the time to sit with them, and to clearly, honestly, and gently describe what happened to their son and what injuries they would see if they chose to see him. This information allowed the parents to make an informed decision and properly prepared them to see their son.
With the information Dana provided them, they reconsidered viewing their son. Dana took them into the room to say goodbye. The young man's father held his son's hand one last time, and his mother ran her fingers through his hair and kissed him goodbye.
I truly believe that Dana’s care allowed these two people to say goodbye to a son who was gone too soon. They were both so thankful to the staff, and to Dana, in particular.