Clinical Research Details

Descriptive Information
Investigating the Effect of Patient Death on Medical Students rotating in the Emergency Department

Nicholas Batley

Completed- Has Results


  • Afif Mufarrij
Rana Bachir
Conditions and Keywords
Cardiac arrest, Trauma
Patients' death,students' experience, Emergency Department
Study Design
Basic / Translational
N/A: Not Applicable
Qualitative data collection
N/A: Not Applicable
N/A: Not Applicable
N/A: Not Applicable
Eligibility and IRB
Min: 23

Studies have shown that experiencing a patient death brings about negative emotional and physical consequences. These include a sense of failure, decreased effectiveness, poor decision making, psychological impairment, and early career burnout. Until this time, however, no published literature exists that investigates the effect of patient death on medical students in the Emergency Department (ED). Experiencing the death of a patient can be extremely challenging in the ED setting.  This is mainly because deaths in the ED are “often traumatic and unexpected involving young and previously health individuals”. Emergency doctors who experience the death of their patients consider quitting their jobs, changing their professions and/or taking time off.  Medical students are the ones who tend to suffer the most due to their limited experience and training.  Although students have shown high emotional reactions to the death of a patient, they received no guidance and/or support from their medical teams. On the contrary, students were often rebuked and mocked: any opportunity to teach the students about how to deal with stress and cope with the situation was, therefore, lost. Another concern arises as a result of criticizing the students’ emotional responses as this may hinder the growth of the students into caring physicians. Further, it may convey a message to students that a professional doctor is one who possesses a high degree of detachment. Allowing medical students rotating in the ED to share their experiences about patient death is important, as this may allow for interventions to be designed that will help the neophyte physician cope constructively with this very fraught area and which may teach students the required skills to properly handle death situations

Four-year medical students studying at the American University of Beirut (AUB) between 2014 and 2015. 

Students were notified of the study through telephone calls and emails. A research assistant contacted them during or two – three months after their rotation in the Emergency Department. They were asked to participate in 30 minute interviews of open-ended and semi-structured questionnaire about their experience with patient death in the Emergency Department and the floor. 

Medical students unwilling to discuss their experiences.