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November 2017

Saying Goodbye

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(11):1565. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.4017

As residents in training, we say goodbye to our patients many times over the course of our career. I am not referring to the encounters with dying patients in the hospital, but rather the goodbyes that accompany rotating “off service,” from one team to another.

One day, I sat in a room surrounded by multiple family members to update them on their loved one’s condition. He had been hospitalized for weeks, initially with a subarachnoid hemorrhage followed by hypernatremia and post–intensive care unit delirium among other diagnoses. I discussed with them his current medications and the next steps moving forward, adding that the overall plan would continue to be reevaluated as the new team rotates on.