Why do we use the term expired when a pt dies?

  1. This has been something that has bothered me ever since I was a CNA 14 years ago....when a patient dies why is it referred to as the patient expired? To me it makes them sound like the patient was a gallon of milk who was pass their shelf date. No matter how hard I try, I just can't think of a human being as being "expired." I know the doctors will dictate this in their discharge summaries and such, but I just find it crude.....am I the only one who thinks this way?
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  2. 41 Comments

  3. by   MissdonditaBsn
    Originally posted by deespoohbear
    This has been something that has bothered me ever since I was a CNA 14 years ago....when a patient dies why is it referred to as the patient expired? To me it makes them sound like the patient was a gallon of milk who was pass their shelf date. No matter how hard I try, I just can't think of a human being as being "expired." I know the doctors will dictate this in their discharge summaries and such, but I just find it crude.....am I the only one who thinks this way?


    Nope, I was just thinking about that the other day. I've thought about this often actually, and just the other day I was talking about the fact that some one "expired". One of my kids heard the comment and asked what it meant. I told them it meant that someone had died and they asked "Why didn't you just say that the person died ".

    sigh...from the mouth of babes comes some of my greatest wisdom
    Last edit by MissdonditaBsn on Feb 16, '03
  4. by   MissdonditaBsn
    On another note. When I first started dating my husband, he was at the hospital to pick me up and came to the floor right at the end of my shift. About the time he got there a patient of mine died. He watched me deal with the family, making the arrangements, making arrangements to have the body picked up and arrangements for another room for the 28 year old patient who wouldn't go back into the room because someone had just died in there and he was "freaked out".....ooopppsss sorry , mind started to wander.

    Anyway, to this day my husband likes to laugh about that. He says we treated it like a mechanic treats a car that won't run. When are we going to move the body, where's the body going, Who identified the body, comments like that.
    He finds it amusing that we deal this way, but I felt bad when he pointed it out because it seemed sort of impersonable.

    I just chalk it up to a good coping mechinism.
  5. by   debyan
    It sounds like our license on life had expired, sorta, kinda. deb
  6. by   nursedawn67
    Expiration is the term for breathing out...such as inspiration is breathing in. So I think the term "expired" refers to the last breath out.
  7. by   plumrn
    Maybe it makes it easier for us to cope by using that word?
    If we allow ourselves to fully "feel" everything on a more sensitive level at that particular time, we might not be able to complete all the numerous details that have to be tended to. Such as notifying the doc, family, Lifegift, clergy, funeral home; getting papers signed, attending to the roommate, etc., etc., etc..

    Kinda sad though, isn't it?
  8. by   deespoohbear
    We have a lot of patients who are a DNR when they die, so a lot of times the docs aren't there to pronounce them. Just us nurses. So, when I call the doc to tell them I never say Mr. "Smith" expired at 1800, I always say the patient has died or passed away. The term expired also reminds me of a credit card that has passed it's effective date. Just seems so cold to me....

    Glad to know that I am not the only one who thinks this is an odd way to refer to the deceased....
  9. by   nursedawn67
    I have always found it a strange term...even though I know the meaning...it does make them sound like some fruit or milk that has gone bad. I say the same thing...passed away or died.
  10. by   Heather333
    I always say passed on. Expired does sound rather impersonal.

    Heather
  11. by   Tweety
    Usually, I say "death" but I confess to using the "expired" word occasionally.

    I think in the Western world, and America in particular death is an issue we haven't really dealt with. So saying "expired" distances us from death.
  12. by   Nurse Ratched
    At the nursing home where I used to work, the expression was "CTB" (ceased to breathe.) I was told that that way we could comment on the patient's condition without making a diagnosis. Very, very strange...
  13. by   emily_mom
    Originally posted by Heather333
    I always say passed on. Expired does sound rather impersonal.

    Heather
    I say that too.


    greer128: Expiration is the term for breathing out...such as inspiration is breathing in. So I think the term "expired" refers to the last breath out.

    So when you are born, does that mean you are "inspired"? I think you're right though....

    Kristy
  14. by   SmilingBluEyes
    euphemism....(however ya spell it). The English language is full of them. We in the USA can't deal with even the word "dead" or death itself, oftentimes. It somehow seems "rude" or "crude" to say it. It somehow softens the blow, I suppose. For me, the word "died" works very well. It's the truth.

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