Calling all labor and delivery nurses: do you have a “list” at your hospital to determine which nurse is “up” for the fetal demise coming to the labor unit? Do you rotate a demise assignment based on seniority, date order of who did it last, or do you assign the patient to somebody you think is good at this sort of thing? Or is it like every other assignment – you get what comes in, regardless of who did what when?
Nurses have lists for everything. There is a seniority list (for holiday and vacation rights), a pull list for who got sent to another unit when, a list for who gets to go home in a snowstorm and who has to stay. There are sign-up lists for party food, who put money in for lottery tickets, and a list of who wants to order out. And a demise list. I like all those lists but the last one.
I hate that list.
What if you were the patient with a perinatal loss and you heard the staff fighting over which nurse should get the dreaded assigment? I daresay you would be appalled.
We’re nurses. We are caring, compassionate, and trustworthy. Patients and families with perinatal loss trust us to see them through the horror. They trust us to handle the tiny body with respect, photograph it, take footprints, get a lock of hair, measure and weigh it, swaddle it, then stay with them while they say goodbye. We have to support them during one of the most difficult events in their lives.
Nobody likes to go to the morgue and place a baby in the chiller. It’s horrible. It sucks.
Life and death.
Life comes with death. Granted, the death part is a less often in labor and delivery than it is on a medical/surgical floor, emergency room, or one of the intensive care units. Do the nurses in those areas keep track of who had the last patient death and make assignments based on the risk of which patient might kick the bucket this shift? I’ve worked at many hospitals in many specialties, and I’ve never heard of it before. Only in labor and delivery.
We are all going to die one day. I hope the nurses taking care us aren’t fighting over who should get stuck with the assignment.
I’ll do it.
Supporting families experiencing sorrow are some of the highlights in my career. Give me the assignment every time there is a fetal demise or non-viable infant due to deliver. I care about and for all patients and families, in the joyous moments and in the depths of their sorrow. It is why I became a nurse.
I’d rather take all the depressing assignments from now until I retire, lest these patients get stuck with a nurse who doesn’t want to do it, can’t handle it, whatever. Because if I can give even one moment of solace to a family in despair it will be worth it.
Nurses, spill your guts.
Do you have a list where you work? Do you like it? Hate it? I want to know how the rest of you feel.