My last block of medical school was supposed to be the best part of the past four years. I carefully crafted a four-week vacation from school, designed for searching for the perfect place to live during my emergency medicine residency while spending valuable time connecting with classmates I might never see again. I could never imagine my current reality of moving back into my childhood bedroom and hiding from imminent ...

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When people used to ask me what a typical day entailed for me, I would gladly share the early starts, the long days on my feet in the OR, and on-calls where anything would happen. I would laugh at how I must have a bladder of steel and cry over some of the saddest stories which came through the front door. No matter the stories, though, one thing was a ...

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A COVID-19 positive resident physician in Detroit died recently, and reportedly two more who treated patients with the virus in New York City have died this week as well; although I can't say for certain, because their names have not been released and their stories exist only in hushed whispers of the resident community. And there's nothing heroic about it. There's nothing heroic about the preventable deaths of good and generous ...

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It seems that many physicians finally realize that they are expendable. The fact that U.S. health care institutions view doctors (and every other employee) as disposable cogs in a machine is not a new phenomenon. I learned this lesson over a year ago as a vulnerable type of provider – a resident physician. From someone who has already been ...

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I grew up with one guiding principle.  One religion.  One stone temple that I bowed to faithfully.  I kneeled at the glorious shrine of medicine.  It was the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life. My education was vigorous.  I stayed at home and studied while my high school buddies were goofing around at the mall.  I spent quiet Saturday mornings in the law library while over a ...

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Just another day as you work into the depths of the night. Medicine engulfs your life as your focus is centered on your responsibilities for tomorrow. You may or may not have time to sit down and enjoy a meal in silence. You may or may not have the opportunity to say good-bye or hello to a loved one. I hope we all had the foresight to realize what we ...

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I am a physician. I have worked hard to get where I am in life. I went into medicine for many reasons. The intellectual challenges. Being in a field with lots of human interaction. And of course to help people. I went into emergency medicine because I ultimately couldn’t decide on a single specialty. I liked something about each one. When I rotated through the emergency department early in ...

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As the medical director of a Midwest community emergency department that has yet to see the New York City-levels of devastation, I am begging hospital administrators across the country to begin leading their front line health care workers in preparation to meet the enemy head-on. It has become painfully clear in our hospital daily incident command briefings and discussions with our hospital leadership that no one is making decisions. The decisions ...

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Growing evidence suggests that the novel COVID-19 virus can be aerosolized.  To adequately protect employees, providers require not just “droplet,” but “airborne” precautions and the appropriate healthcare worker personal protective equipment (PPE). Appropriate PPE mandates an N95 mask. News reports for weeks have described hospitals working without the necessary protection for health care providers. This is the case in Boston-area hospitals, which are running short on these masks. One of the city’s ...

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On Doctors' Day, my hospital celebrated our work by giving us each a pair of cheap headphones, and also announced the death of an attending. Though the personal risk to each of us was highlighted by the recent death, the administration did not give hazard pay, or PPE comparable to other countries', or even a guaranteed supply of isolation gowns. Just headphones a different color than the ones they gave ...

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“You are a hero! “ “Thank you for all you are doing!” It is overwhelming and tremendous; it is touching and heartwarming; it is genuine and sincere.  The outpouring of support and love for health care workers and first responders has been a bright light in the dark days of the coronavirus.  But I have been forced to wonder: What has really changed?  OK, before you get outraged by that statement, hear ...

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It is a dark time to be a physician.  Yes, because of the global pandemic- watching our colleagues in other countries die, staring down the barrel of not enough ventilators, reading the New England Journal of Medicine’s paper on how to choose who gets care and who we allow to die. But we are trained for this.  We are up to the task, to take care of the ill.  What is ...

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Physicians are leaders.  As leaders, we are focused on how to ensure safety for our coworkers while also acknowledging a need for stewardship of scarce supply of resources, namely, personal protective equipment (PPE). I have a particular interest in this topic since I am an emergency physician with a high-risk newborn at home (who spent time in the neonatal ICU just a ...

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We represent the front lines in this ongoing crisis, and we are disheartened by not only the lack of support but overwhelming greed from just about all of you. We have kept our mouths shut and practiced medicine, providing excellent patient care, while many of you became incredibly wealthy on the backs of our hard work. Many of you have not touched or cared for a patient in years; some of ...

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I am an internal medicine physician directly taking care of patients admitted to the hospital who are COVID-19 positive or those who are being tested for COVID-19. Last week, my hospital created a special team dedicated to taking care of these patients. During that time, the hospital was eerily quiet: the ED no longer had patients lying in stretchers, and the inpatient medicine teams were carrying half of the patients ...

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Doctors are begging the public for basic protective equipment.  Us. The United States of America. Supposedly the most advanced, most privileged nation in the world.

We are in a pandemic dumpster fire. There has been no centralized movement to tackle this escalating threat.  Every hospital, city, county, and state has been left to flounder on its own. I’m not the only one who’s noticed we’re completely floundering, right?  Doctors ...

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As an anesthesiologist, the odds are I might get to work thirty minutes or an hour before you to prepare for the case or cases which you will perform that day. No matter what the procedure is, I am prepared for the worst possible scenario. This includes emergency drugs and an intubation plan, even if the procedure would not typically require intubation. As each patient is different and reacts differently ...

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There’s an intruder in our relationship, and her name is COVID.  Every night I come home, and she’s lurking around the corner on an Amazon box, in the crevice of my couch perhaps, or her scent is lingering on my husband’s scrubs.  A physician-physician marriage is hard enough, but when put under the microscope of a life-threatening pandemic, well, it is disjointed to say the least. My husband is an orthopedic ...

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I hope we eventually study the COVID-19 event after a sober period of analysis and reflection as an example of a societal panic attack. This is not Ebola, with a mortality rate of over 50%, or even SARS, with a 10% death rate.  We’ve seen this movie before, figuratively and literally. A new viral disease appears (like the swine flu in 2009), people die, the fear and misinformation spread like wildfire.   ...

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The Joint Commission of Hospital Accreditation requires hospitals to ask the patient for their level of pain, just subjectively. They require we use a 10-point scale, from 0 for no pain to 10 being the worst pain ever. I knew instinctively that this was a bad thing and would lead to more narcotic addiction, as it did eventually. But in our patients, the pain scores went down as we detoxified patients ...

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