Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Hi, Shrinkette. Got a minute? I have this case."

Very Important Doctor is on the line. "Sure, go ahead!" He speaks quickly. Better write this down. He must want a consult.

The patient is in her 60's. He's known her for years. She had pain. He started a pain med. She got dizzy and sleepy. She fell. She had a fracture. She had surgery...then complications. They were bad complications...

"How awful," I say.

Pause. Silence. He goes on:

She had more surgery, and more complications. She's not doing well. She may have had a stroke. She's in the hospital now.

"What room? I'll see her today. What's her name?"

Another pause. "You don't have to see her."

"No? Okay...what's the question?"

There's tension in his voice. He knows this woman, knows her family. He's treated her for years. She's so sick now. She might not make it. He gave her that med...this all started when he gave her that med. Everything went downhill after that...and now she's in a coma...

And finally, I get it. This call isn't for his patient. It's for the doctor.

I lay my pencil down. I shut my mouth. I listen.

-modified, fictionalized account of an actual phone call (see disclaimer in sidebar). Related post:


Anonymous Clinical Cases and Images said...

In a recent article about the Best Jobs in America by CNN Money, the stress of a physician's job was rated as D, flexibility D, creativity B, and difficulty D...

3:22 PM  
Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

How lucky he is to have you as a colleague and trusted friend.


4:07 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

My heart goes out to your colleage - we've all been there, in one way or another.

2:27 AM  
Blogger TBTAM said...

Treating pain, causing pain. It's sll so complicated. Everything we do can have a downside. We try to do what's best, but we have no crystal ball, and we feel so responsible for everyone and everything when thing turn the wrong way. Hope your friend isn't too hard on himself, and I'm glad you were there for him.

8:58 PM  

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