Transition to Death


Introduction Road Sign
  • Providing care to actively dying patients presents unique challenges for the clinician.
  • Patients in their final days require exquisite symptom management.
  • Families need ongoing support and coaching as death approaches.
  • Care does not end with the death of the patient, but continues through death pronouncement, family notification of the death, discussion of autopsies, and immediate bereavement support.
  • Mastering the palliative skills necessary to competently manage an actively dying patient may result in
    • A peaceful patient death that is relatively free of discomfort.
    • Relieving clinician stress attendant to care for dying patients.


Learning Objectives  After completing this module you will be able to:

  1. Use appropriated phraseology when discussing prognostication.
  2. Describe physical changes at the the end of life and related treatment.
  3. Identify three key interventions for comfort in the last 48 hours.
  4. Describe how to support the family as death approaches.
  5. Describe how to pronounce a patient death.
  6. Answer inquiries about autopsy and organ donation.
  7. Describe how to support the family after death has occurred.
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