Breaking bad news: Notifying family members of a death in the emergency department

A basic approach to communicating the news of the death of a family member

Case

A 50 year old man is brought into your emergency department after an unwitnessed cardiac arrest. You follow the simplified approach to PEA, but are unable to identify a reversible cause. Unfortunately, you never regain a pulse and pronounce the patient dead. Your charge nurse tells you, “the family has just arrived – they are waiting for you in the quiet room”…

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