Why this doctor always looks at a dead patient's Facebook page before he tells their family.


An emergency room doctor has explained why he checks dead patients’ Facebook pages before telling their parents of their death.

Dr Louis Profeta, who works in the emergency department at St Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, described one of the hardest parts of his job in a recently resurfaced LinkedIn post.

The physician wrote the article as if to one of the dozens of young people he treats every year who enter the emergency ward and don’t leave it alive.

Dr Profeta explained that he looks for the patient’s Facebook account in order to humanise what is “just a nameless dead body” to him before forever altering a family’s lives.

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

“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,” the The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God author wrote.

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

“I owe it to your mom to peek inside of your once-living world.”

Dr Louis Profeta
Dr Louis Profeta is also a professional public speaker. Image: LinkedIn.

The doctor also explained that after attempting and being unable to save a young person, he is normally "mad" at them, because to end up in an emergency ward, they have often made a mistake.

"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 it was just your time, but chances are... it wasn’t."

Dr Profeta said that on those Facebook pages he'll usually find photos of the young man or woman smiling, laughing, at concerts, at Christmas or at college, often wearing an item of clothing that's now bloodied or destroyed.

He also described in heartbreaking detail what it's like to be the person telling parents their child has died.

"You’re kind of lucky that you don’t have to see it. Dad screaming your name over and over, mum 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," he described.

"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 m***er f***er, how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!'"

LinkedIn users were touched by the insightful post, with thousands liking and commenting.  Many thanked the doctor for his "compassion" and for writing the "powerful" article.