Should I send condolences?

  1. For those that don't know, Sunday at work a 2 month old coded d/t RSV. Baby did not survive. I was there for most of the code. I tended to the baby and to the parents. They probably don't remember my name but that doesn't matter.

    Do you think it's out of line to send a sympathy card? The funeral has already taken place.

    Any thoughts? I remember the last name and it isn't common. Do you think it's out of line to look the address up and send a card? Or should I just leave it alone?

    And for the record, I will never never think of RSV as a minor ailment. This is the first one that we have lost d/t RSV.
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    I think it's a wonderful idea. Even if they don't remember your name they'll remember you. It will mean a lot that their child touched your heart.
  4. by   llg
    While the parents would probably be touched by your kind thoughts ...

    I would caution you about getting so personally involved in the lives of strangers. As a professional, you are bound to see many cases over the course of your career that will touch your heart in some way -- but it is not advisable to "follow them all home" after they leave your care. Not only will you burn yourself out, but you may inadvertantly put you in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation someday by doing so. For example, the patient/family may not be emotionally stable and may "latch on to you" in a way that is not healthy ... or you may inadvertantly insert yourself where you are not wanted, etc.

    A simple card of condolence is pretty low risk ... but be careful about assuming that the family wants to continue their interactions with you. If you don't know them personally, they may be uncomfortable with the fact that you looked up their address, etc. and consider it a bit of a violation of their privacy and/or an intrusion on them at a most difficult time.

    So ... while it probably won't hurt in this case ... it might ... and if you continue to "follow your patients home," you or your patients might be hurt in some future case. I recommend against it unless you have some other connection with the family that would warrent your continued involvement.

  5. by   clemmm78
    In our palliative care, some nurses were doing something like this. We get to know the patients and families quite well during their stay with us. Unfortunately, follow up can cause problems as we are not properly trained for bereavement and the nurses who were doing this were discouraged from it. In fact, they were told not to continue doing so.
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    You have a great heart----such compassion. I can't say what you should do. You do have to be careful not to get overly-involved. But I can't say sending condolences is wrong. I would probably do this same thing.

    But it's obvious you care----and I am sure this poor family knows this too.
  7. by   traumaRUs
    I think it would be a nice gesture. However, in 10 years in the ER, I saw a lot of death. Only one do I continue to think about - almost 11 years later. However, I never sent condolences or anything like that because I felt that it would be crossing the bounds of professionalism.

    ANd for the record, RSV does kill - my grandson had it, spent a week in the hospital in oxygen and was on steroids for another two weeks. You can't take this lightly.