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Recently, I cared for an 82-year-old man dying of lung cancer. His wife remained at his bedside for long hours. One day just before he died, his physician told her she was "holding back" her husband and asked her to leave the room. She complied. Within minutes, her husband died. I felt very uncomfortable about this. Do you think the physician overstepped his authority?-B.L., DEL.
Yes, I do. Your patient's wife came of age at a time when people believed whatever "the doctor says" must be right. But who's to say that your patient wouldn't have died in the next few minutes if his wife had remained at his side?
We don't know if she'd promised to be with him when he took his last breath. But we do know that she was devoted to him. And now we know that she was denied the honor of "walking her darling to the corner."
If you encounter a situation like this again in your nursing practice, don't hesitate to advocate for both of your "patients."
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