Doctor Louis M. Profeta, an emergency room physician at St.Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, looks at deceased patients’ Facebook profiles. Profeta explained why in a heartfelt post he wrote on LinkedIn.
“It kind of keeps me human,” he wrote.
“You see, I’m about to change their lives — your mom and dad, that is.”
An emergency room doctor has revealed the emotional reason he looks at dead patients’ Facebook profiles before speaking to their parents https://t.co/1knll7sIa8
— Evening Standard (@standardnews) October 24, 2018
When a patient arrives for surgery, doctors and everyone attending know nothing about the person other than their diagnosis and what needs to be done to save their life. But Profeta wants to know more about the deceased other than just the body he performed surgery on. He feels it his duty to get to know something about his patients postmortem before delivering to parents the worst news of their lives.
“Right now, to be honest, you’re just a nameless dead body that feels like a wet bag of newspapers that we have been pounding on, sticking IV lines and tubes and needles in, trying desperately to save you,” Profeta said.
“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.”
He didn’t hold back his feelings about his patients being people.
“Because right now . . . all I am is mad at you, for what you did to yourself and what you are about to do to them. I know nothing about you. I owe it to your mom to peek inside of your once-living world.”
Anyone who fails see Dr. Profeta as an amazing man, and doctor, has never had the pleasure of meeting him and seeing him in action. Without taking away from this uplifting and enlightened story of the greatest generation, Dr. Profeta underscores the intrinsic value on bedside mnr
— Brian Harrington (@BrOOhYeah) May 28, 2018
He listed possible scenarios in which patients have met their demise. Was it an accident? Or deliberate?
“Maybe you were texting instead of watching the road, or you were drunk when you should have Ubered. Perhaps you snorted heroin or Xanax for the first time or a line of coke, tried meth or popped a Vicodin at the campus party and did a couple shots.”
“Maybe you just rode your bike without a helmet or didn’t heed your parents’ warning when they asked you not to hang out with that ‘friend,’ or to be more cautious when coming to a four-way stop. Maybe you just gave up. Maybe it was just your time, but chances are . . . it wasn’t.”
One of the hardest challenges we face in life is the death of a loved one. But what we usually don’t see, is how breaking this devastating news to someone can be emotionally taxing for doctors as well. They are the first ones to see the suffering https://t.co/2Teu3gNfm6
— TheBestApps (@TheBestAppsTech) October 24, 2018
He obtains information from a patient’s driver’s license and looks them up on Facebook.
Chances are, he has at least one mutual friend. “I know a lot of people,” he said.
“I see your smile, how it should be, the color of eyes when they are 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.”
— Cindy Owen (@cindyaowen) June 6, 2018
The doctor is familiar with witnessing the anguish of parents receiving tragic news about their child.
“You’re kind of lucky that you don’t have to see it,” he said, as if speaking to a patient who didn’t survive.
“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. It quiets the voice in my head that is screaming at you right now shouting: “You mother fucker, how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!”
— Oaks of Hope (@theoaksofhope) October 18, 2018
#mindfulness In traumatic situations can transform the whole experience from cold and stiff to genuine and compassionate. This doctor is showing how #heartcenteredleadership can be adopted in any situation. #resilience #healing #lessons #transformations https://t.co/Wi1LMqjBL6
— Aundrea De Leon (@Aundrea_DeLeon) October 21, 2018
I read this the other day. I cried… for this physician, for the families he had to meet, and for the lost lives. In these horrific moments this doctor (and many others) takes it upon himself to gain the knowledge needed to provide empathy. #gifts https://t.co/0Ou46a6VuX
— Michelle Barone (@PFCCGURU) October 18, 2018
Brutal and poignant; thanks for sharing
— Katie King, MBA (@katieeking) October 17, 2018
This is a powerful read, and one that reminds us that ER doctors face so many heart-wrenching emotions when a patient dies https://t.co/r3wtO6lasW
— Elemental (@elementalnw) October 18, 2018
Dr. Profeta talked at a TEDx event in 2017 and discussed the harsh realities and emotions doctors face in an emergency room.
Dr. Profeta is known for his critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God. He was twice designated as the LinkedIn Top Voice for readership in health care in 2015 and 2016, according to his website.