SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

January 22, 2013

Dear Abby: Nurse’s grief at patients’ loss was felt by her whole family

(Continued)

Ohio Oncologist

Dear Abby: I am a retired medical oncologist. Early in my career, a grieving patient’s husband berated me for not contacting the family after his wife died. It was then that I realized that despite my excellent care, the family needed something more — closure.

For 30 years, until I retired, I sent a personal sympathy card and message to each family concerning their loss. Sharing these thoughts also gave ME closure.

Doctor Jack in Arizona

Dear Abby: Please let “Grieving” know that one reason the health care professionals did not acknowledge his wife’s death may have been they were instructed by the hospital/treatment center not to. In this day and age, when doctors are sued for malpractice, these types of sympathy notes can be used in court.

Yvonne in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dear Abby: I am at an age when I have lost many family members. NOT ONCE has the doctor sent a condolence card or letter to any family member. On the other hand, I have also lost many pets. Each time, the veterinarian sent a card or note, personally signed and often with the signatures of the entire office staff.

I do not believe medical doctors care less for their patients than veterinary doctors care for family pets, but that vets have made sending condolences part of their office protocol. Medical doctors might well consider adding that protocol to their practices.

Mary in Virginia

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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