In February 2010, I completed my final ward round and said goodbye to my patients in Haiti just six weeks after a tragic earthquake. This earthquake was a natural disaster so devastating that within a momentary blink, a minute's tremor and a rumbling collapse, an estimated one-hundred-thousand people lost their lives. Amidst the wreckage, hundreds of thousands more were left severely injured, shocked, ...

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We emergency physicians are often thrust into the frontline battles raging in society. The pain, blood, and emotions are so real, so thick and ever present, creating an undertone that is difficult to deny. We walk the corridors of our departments actively involved in life or death, where the span of mere millimeters might as well be miles as we explore wounds, clinical scenarios and presentations. How do we do ...

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It’s 1 a.m., and I’m afraid this guy is going to die. He’s gasping for air, hunched over a table as I poke his chubby back and try to find a rib. Oxygen is flowing through nasal prongs at six liters per minute, and it’s barely making a difference as his oxygen saturation hovers around eighty-five percent (it should be in the high-nineties.) He’s sick, but what’s more worrisome is ...

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How applicable are the lessons we learn in the hospital to other areas of our personal and professional lives? Over the past eight years in the emergency department, I have learned most about people. These lessons have been crucial to my success in the ER and as a father to my teenage children. These are my top 5 insights: 1. Clear communication is key and overly clear communication is even better. It ...

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Recently, a young child died following days of vomiting. He had been in shallow water in a Texas dike about a week before his death. The story was picked up as an alleged case of a rare condition called dry drowning or secondary drowning. The media accounts went viral, spreading significant fear in parenting communities and among those learning about these alleged conditions from the news ...

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I cried this morning. It wasn’t because of the patient who coded with a wide-complex tachycardia and died in front of me, and it wasn’t because of the patient who tried to spit on me for not giving her a prescription for narcotics. Nor was it my intoxicated 2 a.m. bar fight patient yelling at my other patients, including one whom I’d recently diagnosed with metastatic cancer. It was because ...

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I want to sincerely thank you from the depths of my heart. I don’t show it, and I certainly don’t say it, but you have always been my role model. You positively shape who I am as a man, and your staunch encouragement is invaluable to me. In a world of words, texts and tweets, you have let your actions speak. You have remained apolitical and areligious, choosing to focus your ...

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I am an emergency physician, forever grateful of the responsibilities entrusted by my patients. This is a relationship I hold dear. As such, I’m an active participant in the war of life and death for our patients. I’m in the trenches with the best nurses, techs and EMS personnel holding the line as the battle continues. We have our victories and share our defeats, all in the name of what ...

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During my salad days, I — like a lot of physicians — thought I could take on the world. Despite working in a smaller, community hospital, our ER saw a lot of the same type of orthopedic trauma I saw during residency. And my young partners and I took virtually every case that came in except spinal trauma. We did this whether we were on unassigned ER call or not ...

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After another long shift of patients with colds, bug bites, ankle sprains and sore throats I eagerly looked through the wine selection at the local grocery store. It was my wedding anniversary and nearing 9 p.m. at the beginning of a holiday weekend. While at the checkout line, an elderly woman in front of me thanked me for my service. At that moment, I realized that I was wearing my ...

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