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View Poll Results: What will you do?

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  • Tell the familly immediately or

    23 62.16%
  • Wait till it's 'safe' to inform the family of the situation.

    14 37.84%
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Thread: A man collapsed

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* eebowler's Avatar
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    Default A man collapsed

    on a hike I was on yesterday. By the time we reached the hospital, he was dead. It's likely a heart attack.The contact number the man left with the hike leader was called to inform the person of the situation. It turned out to be his wife. When we were told that he was dead, the decision was made to inform his wife immdiately. It is only fair that she knows exactly what's happening instead of being bulls****ed by someone on the phone. She was home at the time.

    His 'family' who was on the hike with him and who was present when he collapsed took an additional 20 mins to reach the hospital where we were at. They were upset that the hike leader told the man's wife that he was dead and said that we should have waited to make sure that someone was there with her at the time.

    Personally, I totally agree with the hike leader's decision. It's better to inform the concerned party of what's happening while it's happening instead of holding back information till a later time. If the familly was there at the time when the nurses said that he was dead and at that point they said to wait, then we would have waited. One younger family member (late teens/ early twenties) was there but, he was too upset to care to make any decisions.

    Just to let you know, in the heat of the situation, we didn't even know that the family who arrived 20 minutes later were actually family. We thought that they were concerned co-workers.

    What do you think is the best approach to this situation?
    Last edited by eebowler; 04-10-2006 at 10:19 AM.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* LEDcandle's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Condolences to the man...

    For me, if he was dying, I would inform his wife immediately. If he was already pronounced dead, I guess I could take some time to decide which family member to contact first and work out some possible scenarios.

    But I can understand the hike leader's decision too.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Manzerick's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    It’s a bad situation but honesty seems to be best. You can’t coddle the truth.

    It seems us Americans have been working in ideals lately… kinda scary as the truth is delayed or misconstrued.

    I would def. Want to know ASAP as not to be mistaken or out of the loop…

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    It all depends on the situation. As you described it, I think the right thing was done. But had you known that family was on the way or if the family member present had not been so upset, it would have been their decision even if you had to wait for them to arrive. After all, if he's already dead, the wait won't make things any different. Now, if the man is not dead, inform the wife immediately regardless.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Manzerick's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Agreed....if they are certian he's dead, you can't candy coat it.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic vaism's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    opps.. i voted without reading the entire article. Had thought that the man had simply collapsed and not died.

    If he's dead, yea, i'll inform them immediately. It's only fair to do so.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* nikon's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Some of us don't react very well to this sort of news. Speaking for myself, I'd prefer that a friend or family member tell me in person.
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  8. #8
    Flashaholic* ACMarina's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    What if no family members would have been there, then what??

    I think the proper thing to do would have been to phone the contact person and inform them that there had been a medical emergency - then refer them to the hospital or other entity who is trained to deal with the situation. Doctors do this every day, unlike outdoorsmen like myself. I mean, it's not good to lie, don't get me wrong - but to say that he was in the hospital would be true, correct? Let someone who does that sort of thing take care of it, they're the professionals and they know how to do their jobs..
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  9. #9
    Banned tron3's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Definately tell them. Not fair to give them false hope all the way to the hospital and tell them. That is cruel.

    Some rationalize that you don't want them driving to hospital in a worried frenzy. But that will happen no matter what you tell them. In either case, they have to drive home in that mental state, so what is the point?

    Besides, I don't think I ever heard of a single story where in the mad dash to the hospital, the surviving family also gets killed. God is in control in that respect.

  10. #10
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    You didn't know he had "family" in the group. Sounds like you followed protocol and acted accordingly with what info you had at hand. Regardless of what you did *somebody* will try to tell you you're mistaken; it happens in stressful/painful situations.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic Ras_Thavas's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    A death notification should always be made in person, unless for some extreme circumstances. Learning of the loss of a loved one can cause heart attack or other medical problems. Having a person deliver the message means they can summon help if needed.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic bruddamoke's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ras_Thavas
    A death notification should always be made in person, unless for some extreme circumstances. Learning of the loss of a loved one can cause heart attack or other medical problems. Having a person deliver the message means they can summon help if needed.
    I tend to agree. I'd delay more from the standpoint of being able to provide some type of support. But I would not fault anyone's decision.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* chevrofreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    WAIT

    When my uncle suddenly died we waited until someone was with my grandma before we told her, partially because she's old and very fragile. A heart attack could have been possible had someone not been there to comfort her.

    People can also do stupid things when they find out a loved one has died, if you catch my drift. One person dead is bad enough, two is worse.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    The leader had a responsibility to the man to tell his wife. But this doesn't mean immediately, nor in an irresponsible way.

    Imagine the family was NOT along that day. This clarifies the question a little.

    I would have maybe a local contact from the family present (minister/etc) and had them tell the wife in person.
    This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
    Be prepared for the truth.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* ACMarina's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Did this man pass while on the trail?? While being transported to the hospital?? I mean, unless it's so blatently clear that someone is deceased that nobody could argue otherwise, why not let the medical professionals take care of things? How did everybody *know* he was deceased? Most paramedics in the places I've been wouldn't make that call unless they were looking at something pretty nasty, and then they'd be calling a medical examiner anyway..
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Like a lot of people, I've got a little experience in this area on both sides of the situation. I've received notification of family members' deaths over the phone (which was OK with me but would have crushed others in my family) and I've also had friends and family members die in front of me and have had to make decisions about notifications.

    IMHO, it's probably better to have the family come into the hospital before being told. Bad news can usually wait until the family is in better surroundings to be told.

    Lots of reasons why:

    People might have health problems that could get worse or persons could even harm themsleves if they were alone when told.

    Better to have a friend or relative drive them to the hospital -- people under extreme stress don't think clearly and aren't safe on the roads for others or themselves.

    Being told in the hospital, where there are social workers, psychologists, other trained persons, probably is going to be better than hearing about the death of a loved one over the phone while alone at home.
    "Show them a light, and they'll follow it anywhere..."

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* eebowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Quote Originally Posted by DonShock
    After all, if he's already dead, the wait won't make things any different.
    Painfully true.

    Quote Originally Posted by nikon
    Some of us don't react very well to this sort of news. Speaking for myself, I'd prefer that a friend or family member tell me in person.
    That is the reasoning the family gave us.

    Quote Originally Posted by ACMarina
    I think the proper thing to do would have been to phone the contact person and inform them that there had been a medical emergency - then refer them to the hospital or other entity who is trained to deal with the situation. Doctors do this every day, unlike outdoorsmen like myself. I mean, it's not good to lie, don't get me wrong - but to say that he was in the hospital would be true, correct? Let someone who does that sort of thing take care of it, they're the professionals and they know how to do their jobs..
    If someone told me that a loved one was in the hospital and when I got there found out that they were dead when the person made the call, I'd probably explode. :angry: In my distorted little world, holding back information like that is a lie.

    Letting the hospital staff call the contact number and inform the person of the situation is an option however, in my opinion, it does seem like a cowardice approach since he went on a hike with a club who was more or less responsible for him for the duration of the hike. It could give the impression that they were just dumping a body at the hospital and washing their hands of the whole situation.

    ACMarina: with respect to hospital staff being professionals well, the hospital we carried him to is government run (public)therefore the staff are overworked and underpaid and they probably have to deal with alot of arrogant people on a daily basis. Professionalism usually takes a back seat if exposed to those circumstances for too long.

    Quote Originally Posted by greenLED
    Regardless of what you did *somebody* will try to tell you you're mistaken; it happens in stressful/painful situations.
    That will alwayse be true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ras_Thavas
    Learning of the loss of a loved one can cause heart attack or other medical problems. Having a person deliver the message means they can summon help if needed.
    Point taken.

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog
    I would have maybe a local contact from the family present (minister/etc) and had them tell the wife in person.
    The only information available was a phone number and the general area where he lived.

    Quote Originally Posted by ACMarina
    Did this man pass while on the trail?? While being transported to the hospital?? I mean, unless it's so blatently clear that someone is deceased that nobody could argue otherwise, why not let the medical professionals take care of things? How did everybody *know* he was deceased? Most paramedics in the places I've been wouldn't make that call unless they were looking at something pretty nasty, and then they'd be calling a medical examiner anyway..
    I don't know either. We carried him through the emergency entrance of the hospital, put him on a bed and the medical individual present there rolled him away requesting the company of only one person who had the most info ie, the late teen/ early twenties relative mentioned above. Within five mins he came out wit the news.

    Quote Originally Posted by chmsam
    IMHO, it's probably better to have the family come into the hospital before being told. Bad news can usually wait until the family is in better surroundings to be told.

    Lots of reasons why:

    People might have health problems that could get worse or persons could even harm themsleves if they were alone when told.

    Better to have a friend or relative drive them to the hospital -- people under extreme stress don't think clearly and aren't safe on the roads for others or themselves.

    Being told in the hospital, where there are social workers, psychologists, other trained persons, probably is going to be better than hearing about the death of a loved one over the phone while alone at home.
    Thank you very much for all your inputs. I'll send a link to this thread to the hiking club exec. It does seem like the 'better' approach would be to ensure that at lease one other individual is present with the person on the other end of the line or that the person comes in to the hospital for the news. Whatever the case, I do believe that the best decision was made at the time of the incident.

    eebowler.
    Last edited by eebowler; 04-11-2006 at 05:02 AM.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Wolfen's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    It's not safe to do telephone notifications. Once you have done three or four in person you would understand why. I have done or have been present for over a dozen and have called EMS because of the heart attacks, asthma attacks and other medical emergencies as well as dangerous behavior that could have resulted in someone being injured or killed. There is very little as hard or humbling as telling a deceaseds' loved ones the bad news.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    I feel the team leader was obligated to make that call. That is, if I read the story correctly, and the decedent himself provided the contact phone number to the hiking leader as the number/person to call (presumably in an emergency). Said obligation could possibly be circumvented if other relatives were there at the time of the pronouncement, and assumed full responsibility for notification.

    This is a really tough decision that depends on the people involved in any given situation. What's "right" for one person, would be "wrong" for someone else. In this instance, the family was upset that the man's wife was told, but I can easily see the opposite happening--a spouse who might be just as upset because crucial information was delayed and/or misrepresented.

    In a "perfect" world, it would be best to have someone with the person receiving the bad news, but it doesn't seem feasible or reasonable to expect third parties to know the dynamics of individual families.

    What I think may be important in this story, is that when we do provide others with emergency contact information, it is incumbent on us to determine whether that contact is the right person to impart bad news to.

    My 2 pennies.

  20. #20
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Quote Originally Posted by flashfan
    What I think may be important in this story, is that when we do provide others with emergency contact information, it is incumbent on us to determine whether that contact is the right person to impart bad news to.
    That is an excellent point. ISHTF in my family, our contact information requests they call my brother first (he'll hate to get the call, he'd handle things better than my mother).

  21. #21

    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Quote Originally Posted by chmsam
    IMHO, it's probably better to have the family come into the hospital before being told. Bad news can usually wait until the family is in better surroundings to be told.
    I'm *good* at delivering information and keeping people calm.
    I notified a family that lived about 50 miles away that their son had been in an accident and recieved nothing more than a cut lip. (True but it cut the lip in half.)
    They showed up less than 40 minutes later. They had passed through three other towns on the way...
    I asked what I had done to alarm them and they said nothing, but the last time somebody told them that they took their time and their other son was dead when thet got there.
    Calling them to the hospital and not telling the truth is wrong at best and possibly grounds for a law suit. In California at least the most common way to deliver a death notice is the police or sheriff's department.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* eebowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    flashfan: You are correct. There was only a 'contact in case of emergency' number provided without a name to go with it.

    Wolfen: Those are scary truths the hiking club WILL have to be aware of.

    Mike: False hope is something NO ONE deserves.
    Last edited by eebowler; 04-12-2006 at 05:14 AM.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* ACMarina's Avatar
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    Default Re: A man collapsed

    Mike - Exactly my thoughts. Ya know, as I think about it, just because you have an emergency contact number doesn't always mean it's for the holder to use, is it?? Let's say a student is injured on a field trip; the teacher has the emergency information, but is that really for them to use?? My experiences thus far have been that the information would be transferred to the paramedics, fire department, etc. The police department does this kind of thing every day, and they're trained to do it for a reason. Even in a non-life threatening emergency, it's best to get information from someone you know and/or trust, not a complete stranger. If it can be done, it's best to let a public servant like a police officer handle the situation..
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