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Post-traumatic stress: Care providers and their emotions

Posted Dec 09 2010 6:03pm
We recently had a very sudden medical emergency with no advanced warning. Yes, one of those very rare birth emergencies that would have resulted in death if it happened at home.

Believe it or not, many pregnancy/labor/birth complications have signs that tell the care provider that something is just not right. Most complications give you plenty of time to transfer to a hospital, and still have a very positive outcome.

Well, due to the severe and rare nature of what has occurred recently in the hospital, I cannot delve into details. I will say, however, nothing could have prevented what happened. The fact that we were strategically located within 2 minutes to an operating room still doesn't make the outcome positive.

We had a debriefing for everyone involved afterward, and that was my first time experiencing that. (Yes, that is just how traumatic and rare this was!) Looking back over other emergencies and situations I have been involved in, I'm sure other situations warranted debriefings. The debriefing is where everyone who was involved meets, talks about what happened from their point of view, and is not aimed at pointing fingers or making accusations. It's about expressing our feelings and releasing those feelings with others who were there. It's meant to reduce the incidence of post-traumatic stress.

There was definitely some crying and self-blame going on. Could we have done it any different, done ANYTHING different, for a better outcome? Getting reassurances from the physicians involved, and from co-workers unanimously said that same thing: we all worked well together, and we couldn't have done anything to prevent what happened.

I'm still processing what happened. I'm still feeling very ....... blank. Nothing really. No crying, no anger, no wondering "why did this happen to THIS mom and baby?"

I'm waiting for the emotions to start. If they ever start. I sometimes wonder if I'm able to compartmentalize my feelings *too* well when we have crisis situations.
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