This writing assignment invites you to reflect on what makes a meeting with a family to determine treatment goals for a seriously ill patient successful. There is an emphasis on the importance of what you communicate and your relational skills. Assignment instructions: Submit your 4-5-page typed responses to the questions that follow the case below. You are a nurse practitioner in the neuro ICU. Angela Smith, a 55-year-old African American female, was brought to the emergency department four weeks ago for changes in mental status. A neighbor called EMS when she was found walking shoeless in the snow, unaware of her name or where she lived. She was admitted to a medical unit with a diagnosis of stroke. A CT scan on admission revealed a subarachnoid bleed. She has a long history of diabetes and uncontrolled hypertension. Her social history reveals that she is widowed with two daughters. She lost her husband eight months ago to a traumatic work accident in which he suffered a head injury and died instantly. Her religious affiliation is Baptist, and she organizes the pro-life activities at her church. Her friends and family know her greatest wish is to have a grandchild. After a two-week stay, Angela was awaiting transfer to a rehab facility when she suffered a respiratory arrest requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation. A second CT scan showed an extension of her bleed into the ventricles and brainstem. It is uncertain whether she suffered irreversible neurological damage. After two weeks in the ICU, decisions must be made regarding the plan of care for Angela. She has not regained consciousness and, if she is to remain on the vent, she will need a trach for long-term ventilation and a PEG for nutrition and hydration. The neuro team does not recommend trach and PEG, suspecting the damage to her brain is irreversible. In the absence of an advance directive, the nursing staff reveals that the daughters have stated they want everything done because that’s what she would want. They verbalized that they can’t lose both their parents in the same year. The older daughter, who is expecting her first child, is often overheard saying, “Ma, you need to get better so you can hold the baby when she’s born.” They believe God will cure her because “she has always believed in miracles.”
It is clear to you that their expectations are unrealistic even in the best of circumstances. You agree with the neuro team’s assessment of her brain damage and decide to schedule a family conference. What is the essential content to be addressed in this conversation? Identify four or more themes. Identify four to five objectives for your meeting. What would indicate, if achieved, an effective session? Identify the team you will assemble for the meeting and why you’ve chosen these disciplines. Script the conversation you will use to address the essential content you identified. What actual words will you say to those present at the family meeting? See the example below. Your script need not include the family’s responses/questions. Example: Essential Content: Determine what the patient would communicate about treatment options if she were able to speak for herself. “If we could somehow wake up your mother and ask her questions about her care, what do you think she would tell us about wanting or not wanting a feeding tube and a tracheostomy?” (Tracheostomy is a surgical operation that creates an opening into the trachea with a tube inserted to provide a passage for air.) Is it easy or difficult to find the right words to communicate with this family? What is the probability that you will reach consensus about the treatment goals and plan of care?