“So, is this the sickest list you’ve ever had?” the resident asked me at 2 AM, after I finally finished checking off all my boxes for the night. I nodded. I agreed. I was also shaking. I had been covering nine patients that night. Almost none were stable. In the span of one shift, we called three rapid responses. One person went into cardiogenic shock right in front of me was transferred to ...

Read more...

The page comes from the psychiatry intern on call. “There’s a situation with patient RB on the unit. Please advise.” We gather in the hall outside the patient’s room. There are already three -- no, four -- security guards standing several feet away with their arms folded. Backup. Ready. Ready for what? We whisper in hushed tones as the intern explains what happened. He was “acting out.” He was running through the ...

Read more...

“Ms. M,” the resident says, “I saw in your chart that the last time you had surgery you had a pulmonary embolism.” She nods with recognition: “I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was really scary.” Then: “I sure don’t want that again.” The resident lifts up the covers and sees that the patient’s calves don compression boots. “Make sure you keep the boots on,” he says, pointing. What do boots ...

Read more...

Had I met her anywhere but the hospital, I would have gone to her side. I would have asked her what was wrong. I would have offered to help. She was 99-years-old and about to undergo surgery. Pre-operative holding is generally a busy place. Patients lie in gurneys, spending some last moments with loved ones and fielding questions from various players of the surgical team as they come to the bedside. No, ...

Read more...

You may not remember me, but when I asked how you were, you said, “alive.” A few weeks earlier you were afraid of going under anesthesia and not waking up. They said you’d do great; that this was routine; that we’d see you again soon. Then you coded on the table. I’ve never met someone who was grateful for life the way you expressed to me that day. You may not remember ...

Read more...

I’ll start with this: it’s great to be back. I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for the past few months because of the exam I took last week: the medical boards, or Step 1, an eight hour test that covers all of the first two years of medical school to prepare us for the hospital wards. To give you an idea of what it entails, most second-year medical students use a ...

Read more...

“Sometimes, how you feel at the end of an interview can be clinically revealing,” my preceptor says. “How does this patient make you feel?” *** “Mr. M?” I ask gently, knocking on the hospital room door. “May I come in?” “Hello? Hello?” I enter at what I think is an invitation to me, but see that 79-year-old Mr. M is speaking into the phone instead. “I’m sorry, I can come back…” I start to say. ...

Read more...

Doctors use different standards to judge scientific research depending on who funded it. They judge research funded by industry as less rigorous, have less confidence in the results, and are less likely to prescribe new drugs than when the funding source is either the NIH or unknown – even when the apparent quality of the research is the same. Those were the results of a study published by Harvard ...

Read more...

In 1977, a group of doctors began a campaign to change the name of an inflammatory arthritis after discovering it was named after a Nazi doctor who planned and performed gruesome forced human experimentation that killed thousands. In one of these experiments, for example, Hans Conrad Julius Reiter inoculated Buchenwald concentration camp inmates with the microbe causing typhus, resulting in the deaths of over 250 people. The inflammatory arthritis ...

Read more...

There’s an intersection in Boston outside one of my favorite places to eat. At the corner of two bustling streets is a white bike, chained in place, surrounded by flowers. In loving memory. *** One evening earlier this month, I was riding the ‘T,’ Boston’s streetcar system, when our train suddenly stopped. There were the usual sights and sounds of delayed passengers: people fiddled with cell phones, glanced at watches, tapped feet impatiently. ...

Read more...

2 Pages