Actual Patient Conversation: “Man, that Dilaudid didn’t even touch my pain.” “Uh, Okay.  Your CT was negative so you’re fine to go home.  I’ll ask your nurse to come discharge you.  Come back if you get light headed or start to vomit but otherwise, just take Motrin for your headache and you should be fine.” […]

1001 Ways to Die There has got to be a better way to die and surely the patient at the center of our frantic activity couldn’t have wanted this one.  I arrived at his room with a code in progress although, as the patient was still alert, most of the activity involved throwing towels on […]

I’m Better, Thanks Like I said, it’s only in residency training where one could be happy to be sick while on vacation. I am just getting over a bout of what was probably the flu and as there is no practical way to take any time off as a resident, about the only time we […]

(I hesitate to present this article because everything in it is so indisputable to those who work in health care that I might be accused of belaboring the obvious. With this in mind I ask for the indulgence of you, oh my regular readers, who may skip this article entirely as nothing new will be […]

Futility On the last day of her life, your mother went on a spending spree. I intubated her at around 9AM and for the rest of the day we threw money at her, successfully keeping her alive until about dinner-time when her liver cancer finally had enough, gave us the finger, and showed us who […]

Apropos of Nothing

December 16, 2006 | Leave a Comment

1100 Bucks a Month Just from the outset, let me say that poor 70-year-old Mr. Neely was definitely being neglected and possibly being abused by his son. The first thing they told me was that his hair was so dirty and unkempt that it was like one single dreadlock. The nurses had to cut off […]

Dawn of the Dead

November 24, 2006 | Leave a Comment

Loaves and Fishes The body of Mr. Dubois recedes into the shadows as the nurse turns down the lights. His family wants some time with him before he is taken wherever it is we take the bodies of those who finally exhaust our ability to reanimate them. Mr. Dubois did not go quickly or easily. […]

Pulmonary Consult

October 21, 2006 | Leave a Comment

Breathe “I’m a difficult patient,” declaims Mrs. Olafsen proudly around a mouthful of Whopper with cheese. “Nobody knows what’s wrong with me.” “Really? It certainly looks like that from your chart.” Mrs. Olafsen is gigantic. It took four nurses to get her from the stretcher to her bed. Her legs, like two scaly tree-trunks, encircle […]


July 29, 2006 | Leave a Comment

Waiting for a Miracle “You understand that if your father’s heart stops we’re going to be pounding on his chest and shocking him to try to get it started,” I say to the family of Mr. Green, “There will many people in the room who you have never met inserting lines in his veins and […]