How do you inform a critical care patient of the death of a loved one while taking into account the patient’s current condition?

Much has been written about how to break bad news to patients regarding their own illness and diagnoses and about making death notifications in the community. Little, however, has been written about informing critical care patients of bad news regarding the death of a loved one. Aspects of previously published literature and protocols can be adapted for situations in which a critical care patient must be informed of such a death.1,4 

In this article, the critical care patients are adult patients in any intensive care unit (ICU; surgical, medical, cardiac, burn) who in the course of a hospitalization have had a loved one die either in a related incident or because of other injury or health issues. The approach recommended focuses on the...

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