Palliative Care in Sudden Death

Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN


July 06, 2016

Case Presentation

Robert was a 67-year-old retired engineer with a history of hypertension, coronary artery disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He had cardiac bypass surgery 1 year ago and had done very well after surgery, stopped smoking, followed an exercise and nutrition plan, and reported feeling "like a new man." He and his wife were planning a cruise to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of his bypass surgery and their 40th wedding anniversary.

After dinner one evening, Robert complained of stomach pain and moments later collapsed and was unresponsive. His wife called 911, and he was transported to the emergency department (ED), where he was declared dead on arrival. The ED physician believed it may have been a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. His wife, Joan, was still in the waiting room unaware that he had died because the ED was dealing with several trauma cases, and the physician who saw him on admission was now involved with another case. Joan told the ED nurse that she was attempting to contact her two children who lived out of state.


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