Today I received a letter from an Attorney. A summons for a deposition. For legal and ethical reasons I will not include any details of the case. All I can say is a child I was caring for in the Emergency Department later died in the ICU. I remember this case well. I have witnessed death or “less than ideal” outcomes many times throughout my previous career as a Registered Nurse. Every Nurse, especially those working in specialties such as the ER and ICU bear witness to death intermittently or frequently. There is always at least one that you take home with you for one reason or another. As Nurses we feel responsible for our patients (especially pediatric ones). Whenever a situation happens we blame ourselves and punish ourselves despite how little actual control we had at preventing it. Often our administrators and society potentiate this.
When death is unexpected it is often the most grievous. It isn’t consistent with the way we like to view our reality. When a trauma patient dies or a very sick person riddled with comorbidities we tend to accept the passing much easier most of the time. I did anyway, I realize there are many triggers for healthcare professionals. Like all triggers they are unique to the individual. For example I was caring for a little boy who reminded me of my son and was the victim of abuse. We suspected the Mother’s boyfriend (often is) as the culprit. When the biological Father arrived he broke down crying. I did the same as I could feel his pain almost as if it was my own. A man I had never met was sobbing in my arms as was I. The reason I offer Nurses a large discount for coaching is I get how much it screws us up emotionally. In an average day a Registered Nurse is exposed to more pain and suffering than most witness in their entire lifetime. We brush it off and push on as this is expected.
We live in a blame culture. Is it not true that you (most readers) are not already shifting blame in your mind to me or the family? I spend a great deal of time assisting Client’s in the process of Accountability. Taking responsibility for their reality, their lives, their happiness. It is much easier to point the finger and the system, the other people, the circumstances, the way it is. It is always his, her, theirs not my fault. They did this or they should have done this. It is valid at times but it never changes the outcome. Every healthcare professional is acutely aware of this and the industry spends billions on methods, training, and techniques to alleviate responsibility. It simply has to if it want to survive. It forces Physicians to do unnecessary diagnostic tests and treatments to avoid liability. I can easily argue that conservatively 50% of the exams, imaging, and procedure performed in Radiology are done simply to cover the Doctors and Hospitals ass. If the 1 patient out 100,000 is misdiagnosed then the Hospital/ Provider is potentially liable. This is the second greatest contributor to healthcare costs (the first I explain in my Blob Demand=Healthcare Solution). The sad irony is that all the tests and exams being performed with justification is only increasing the risk (exponentially) for an actual complication and harm to occur. The reason for this is simple. The majority of people in the United States will blame others (people, systems, etc) before considering any other possibility including the most obvious. Some argue that certain people will sue simply for money and yes this is a contributing factor. It is easier this way for most and the system is powerless to address this. Of coarse mistakes occur. In some cases the mistakes are the result of carelessness, negligence or other. Those are the exception lawsuits and in those instances the victims should be compensated extensively at minimum. All I can say is the case involving my summons is NOT the latter.
Human Beings are terrible at assessing long-term risk. This is not just my opinion it is a scientific fact. It wont happen to us or who wants to think of these things happening. If you are an average person than guess what? The statistics are applicable to you and you are not the 20% who will not get heart disease or cancer prematurely. Sadly, people die unexpectedly. Our general fear of Death makes this fact difficult to truly accept. We all know this yet we tell ourselves it wont happen to us. Even if your loved one has a serious genetic disorder, a predisposition to severe infection, and many brushes with death in the past for this reason.
The more Aware I become of my emotions and reaction the better I see the distinction between my previous Ego-Self and Higher-Self. I understand forgiveness of all parties involved including self is crucial. Many would see a deposition as stressful and panic inducing. I no longer cling to anything and will simply speak the truth. This is another opportunity to heal and let go. Being Spiritually aware my perception of Death is not shared by most, at least on deep level. I know without doubt that only our physical bodies die. There is no Hell and Suffering in death. At least not what we have been taught. There is only peace, love and light especially for children.
To all those Healthcare Professionals, Parents and Families that have lost a child. It is NOT your fault. You can not change the outcome. You did all you could and that is all you can do. It is beyond your control and control over life and death is and always will be an illusion in the eyes of God. You are forgiven, by God and your baby. I am sorry for your pain. Remember you are loved. Separation and time are illusions. We are always together and this never ends.
Love and Empathy,
Dan McGinley (former) RN BSN