Chapter 1: Communication essentials

Notifying family of imminent death

The paramedic says
Tristan reinforces the importance of being honest when communicating with patients and families. (3:22)Video transcript
The grief expert says
Dr. Chris MacKinnon provides guidance on explaining to the family that death is imminent. (3:22)Video transcript

Many paramedics report little to no training on how to notify family that a patient is going to die or has died. If, in your clinical judgement, you believe death is likely imminent, inform the patient (if they’re responsive) and the family. Being compassionate, frank, and honest is best.


Conversation Prompts

The changes I’m seeing in her colour and breathing suggest to me that she may die soon. Would you like to sit closer to her?

For additional information about cultural considerations, see Module 6, Supporting the patient and family - Chapter 2, Respecting and responding to cultural practice and traditions.