Society of African Journal Editors

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Eastern and Central Africa

The sting of death: a case report of breaking bad news with maternal death

Authors: A Kihara, RJ Kosgei, EJ Cheserem, S Mueke, P Owende, NM Ojanga, JG Karanja

Journal: Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Eastern and Central Africa

Maternal death stings core deep for the relatives and the service providers in an obstetric unit where they had anticipated a joyful experience from childbirth. We describe a case of death disclosure and breaking bad news in our unit. This was a case of a 34 year old, Para 1+0, who underwent elective caesarean section at term, secondary to one previous scar. The operation was successfully conducted and was discharged to the postnatal ward two hours after the surgery in stable condition. Four hours later, the patient was wheeled back to the labor ward gasping. Despite emergency resuscitative measures the patient succumbed. Death was disclosed to the immediate relative in privacy, after a summary of chronology of events, assembling a disclosure team and taking cognizance of emotional reactions. This case is presented to suggest guidelines for breaking bad news upon maternal death to minimize families’ suffering from long-term emotionalconsequences, pathologic grief reactions and cases of medical litigation Keywords: Maternal death disclosure, Breaking bad news, Guidelines