Does anyone want to share the first time they saw a dead patient? What happened, what did you think? How did you feel? Had you seen one before medical school? I’m working on an article and need some stories.
I saw my first dead patient as a volunteer at an Emergency room. I had just come on to my shift, and I usually went around to make sure all the beds had been made up, etc, when one of the nurses told me not to go into room 4C, because there was a body in it. Then, some of the NA’s went to prep the body to be moved down to the morgue and wanted to know if I would like to help.
So we go into the room and I’m thinking, wow, this guy was alive and talking to people an hour ago (massive MI) and now he’s laying on the table with two people unceremoniously cleaning him and chatting while they work. I wasn’t disgusted, it was just very strange, looking at someone who suddenly was no longer alive.
What was far more disconcerting for me was when we had removed the body from that room (yes, I took the trip down to the morgue, wheeling a sheet covered gurney down the hall), and we disinfected it and put another patient in there (it’s an emergency room after all, and we need the beds). I wanted to go up to the new patient and say “Get out of there, someone just died in that bed!”
All afternoon I kept glancing into that room, and I’m not quite sure of what I expected to see.
I’m glad I didn’t see that man die though, because I did see someone die the following week, and I think it sort of took an edge of the new shock that I had personally talked to this second dead body not half an hour before she died. I think I always knew people sometimes die in hospitals, but it hadn’t really connected until then.
Last year, as a first year medical student, I was shadowing a resident in the ICU. He got called up to help out with a code and they lost the patient. He was over 90 years old, but it was still really sad. I hadn’t expected to witness someone’s death when I showed up for a routine shadowing experience, but I guess you never know what to expect in medicine…..