Updated 26 October 2018

Doctor shares the devastating reason for viewing his dead patients’ social media

"I check your Facebook page before I tell them you’re dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love.”

An emergency room doctor has posted a heartbreaking open letter on LinkedIn, revealing the reason he checks his dead patients' social media before letting their parents know he couldn't save their child.

Louis Profeta — a physician at St Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, USA — wrote that when he has young patients who die in his care, he doesn’t contact their parents without first trying to find the deceased’s profile on Facebook. He says doing that keeps him “human”.

“You see, I’m about to change their lives — your mom and dad, that is. In about five minutes, they’ll never be the same, they’ll never be happy again,” he wrote.

“Right now, to be honest, you’re just a nameless, dead body that feels like a wet bag of newspapers that we’ve been pounding on, sticking IV lines and tubes and needles in, trying desperately to save you.

“There’s no motion, no life, nothing to tell me you once had dreams or aspirations. I owe it to them to learn just a bit about you before I go in.”

I owe it to the parents

The doctor explains that he feels he owes it to the parents to take a look inside their child’s world and find out a bit more about their son or daughter.

Louis says he’d find the patient’s driving licence, pick up his iPhone and search their name in Facebook, hoping that he might locate their profile.

“I see you wearing the same necklace and earrings that now sit in a specimen cup on the counter, the same cap or jacket that’s been split open with trauma scissors and pulled under the backboard, the lining stained with blood,” he writes.

“I see your smile, how it should be, the colour of eyes when they’re filled with life, your time on the beach, blowing out candles, Christmas at Grandma’s; oh, you have a Maltese, too. I see that.

“I see you standing with your mom and dad in front of the sign to your college. Good, I’ll know exactly who they are when I walk into the room. It makes it that much easier for me, one less question I need to ask.”

Witnessing the pain

He goes on to explain that his patient is lucky in some way because they don’t have to witness their parents’ pain.

“Dad screaming your name over and over, mom pulling her hair out, curled up on the floor with her hand over her head as if she’s trying to protect herself from unseen blows.”

At the end of the devastating post, the physician concluded: "I check your Facebook page before I tell them you’re dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love.”

Sources: LinkedIn, Metro, The Mirror
Image: iStock