The other night I had an interesting question come from a patient, I had no idea how to answer that question, so I said I would ask someone and get back to the family member.
A little background on what happened. A patient came up from the ED, who had recently been diagnosed with something that would kill her. So she and her family members came up to my floor as we are the oncology unit and deal with a lot of comfort care patients. The patient seemed to be doing quite fine considering her diagnosis, but what one of her family members asked me was what threw me off guard. She looked me square in the eye and asked me how do I make this kind of phone call. I had never been asked that question and I had no response for it. I excused myself and said I would ask some people and get back to her. So I left the room with my head spinning and asked both my clinical coach that night and the charge nurse. They were both seasoned oncology nurses, and both gave me looks that they didn’t know how to answer that question. The charge nurse said that it was probably best to just relay the information, not sugar coat it, and make sure that the sense of urgency was understood should the patient pass quickly as she very well may have.
I was at a bit of a loss for words, and when someone was looking to me for guidance, I was unsure how to proceed. Has anyone had this experience before? Does anyone have some advice on how to proceed in this type of situation?