Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Coroner Relations

Dealing with people whose family member (or friend) has died is often incredibly difficult. All deaths are sudden, even those most anticipated (e.g. hospice deaths). It is an exceedingly emotionally charged time. It is not a time for thinking clearly, the thoughts race or the thought process slow to a crawl. The family and friends can’t “hear” or at least process what they hear adequately. Disbelief and doubt creep in (actually really roll in).

You try to anticipate that in talking with them, helping them through the processes, through the experience. Each death is different. Every person is different. Things may seem to be going well for them initially, but come tumbling down later. It may be hell for them from the beginning. You try to comfort, to be truthful, to be straight-forward. But it can be perceived as less than that. It can become distorted or seem to be distorted.

We always do our best. We are human, too, and “to err is human”. So we don’t always get it right. Or we may get it right, but it seems lees than right by those family members and friends. It gets put through a grinder, looked at with a microscope or telescope, at times with a less than perfect lens. It sometimes comes out looking less than perfect, even seemingly less than acceptable.

But we do it all again with the next individual who dies.


Anonymous said...

Coroner relations...I think that it is great that this is a subject you bring up. Unfortunately, the one time I had to deal with a coroner it was in a county with a closed system and all I was allowed to know was cause and manner. No accountability for sloppy work. Just thought the people of Lake county should appreciate the fact they live in a county that allows them access to cases, even if they don't agree with what they are told; and they actually have a Coroner concerned about relations.

Also, you stated, "..all deaths are sudden..", and you are absolutely right!
Thanks for the blog!!!

Kathy said...

Dr. Keller,
Most people don't meet you or your staff under good circumstances. I was unfortunately one of those people. Although you and your staff have my utmost respect; I do have a suggestion. Before you inform one of ccurrent situation. Find out where they are. Driving 55mph down the highway is not the place to find out you lost a loved one. Just a suggestion...

I'm a little behind on your blog and apologize for the comment being a little behind the times.


Dr. Richard Keller said...

Certainly our choice for notification is face-to-face with the family and loved ones of the deceased. There are however times when our hand is forced and the notification can occur under less than ideal conditions and, yes, even terrible conditions. We have discussed those issues in our office and it is an ongoing discussion with all attempts made to ensure that events like this do not occur.

I apologize and will expend every effort to make sure it doesn't happen again.