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Danish nurses break hospital protocol to give dying man wine and cigarette


A request by nurses at a Danish hospital to break the rules and allow a terminally ill patient to have a glass of white wine and a cigarette have become a social media sensation.

Aarhus University Hospital in central Denmark made the decision, with the agreement of family members, to grant Carsten Flemming Hansen his final wish to enjoy a drink and a smoke after he spoke to his nurses.

“It was a very cosy and relaxed atmosphere”

Rikke Kvist

Mr Hansen, 75, was admitted with an inoperable spur on the artery in his stomach, with a matter of hours or days before he was expected to die from internal bleeding.

The hospital revealed the incident in a post on the social media site Facebook, which noted that nurses and the patient’s family had agreed that his “greatest wish” was “more important than the treatment, prevention and smoking rules”.

Therefore, he was wheeled out onto a balcony where he could “enjoy the cigarette, the cool glass and a beautiful sunset” with his family.

As of today, the hospital’s Facebook post on the incident, including a picture of Mr Hansen sleeping quietly on the balcony, has received around 74,000 likes, more than 5,100 shares and 2,700 comments.

Aarhus University Hospital

Danish nurses break rules to give patient final wish

Rikke Kvist

“It was a very cosy and relaxed atmosphere,” said one of the hospital’s nurses, Rikke Kvist, in a short video also posted on Facebook.

“Of course, there were relatives also affected by the fact he was going to die, and they were sad,” she added.

She said the reaction on Facebook “confirms to me that I did the right thing, and I’ve actually known all along”.


Readers' comments (4)

  • This brings back memories of me allowing a wife to lie in bed with her brain dead husband after they had switched off life suport in ICU.
    Tears in my eyes remembering. I didnt give a ... if I was challenged.
    I am still proud today and I hope the wife is ok.

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  • Compassion in action. Rules are necessary for safety, order & etc ... but in the face of death we must remember to be at our most human.
    We fight for life.
    Death is the last part of one life which affects those left behind.

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  • Remember advocating for a dementia patient to find a room in a care home which opened to the garden, so that he could be wheeled outside and have a smoke. Based on his feeling that deciding when and if to have a cigarette was the only decision left to him (paraplegic/incontinent/etc.), and his only expression of self. By the time somewhere suitable had been found, his dementia had progressed to a point where he no longer remembered that he smoked! Still have mixed feelings about it!

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  • This decision was the right one - simple as. He had days, or hours left - pity our rules here are so entwined in the fear of redress for nurse and medic, if the dying or palliative patient, is afforded less aggressive intervention, and given a peaceful end. Too often rules are based on..we can`t, what if...there will be an investigation...quality of care comes forst, and quality of life - and the gent and his loved ones will remember his last few days, relaxed as they could be....far far better than dictatum. Of course it helps that the Danish hospital waas designed with a balcony for this - our places are not nearly as flexible in design. And no, I am not a smoker, or drinker - but I am humane.

    Pay attention,our NHS and care sector involved in end of life care - I know many do try and meet this need, but my question is....why was it breaking RULES to let a grown man, have a flass of wineand a smoke, whenhe was dying - begs the question of is this a human we have in our care, or a box to tick....

    Good on the nurses who helped him - I don`t smoke or drink but if I did and was dying I`d want the choice!

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