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Sometimes The Best Thing To Do Is Nothing At All

It’s the hardest thing in the world for a doctor to do.

After all, doctors are do-ers. That is how they have managed to achieve their degrees: hard work, discipline, perseverence. Who else would be willing to memorize all those organic chemistry equations long enough to vomit them back on paper? Who else would tolerate long nights and weekends on a constant basis? But they do it because it’s the right thing to do. They do it because someone has to. People don’t get sick nine to five. They get sick at 2 am. And so, by it’s very nature over the years, medical education becomes a sort of natural selection: only the strong survive.

Historically, doctors endure the system because they know that there are rewards for this hard work personally, professionally, socially, and financially. So throughout their training, doctors learn to perfect the art of doing. That’s what people come to expect. Oh my God, doctor, he’s choking: do something! He’s turning blue: do something! But he fainted, doctor! Do something!

One of the best parts of medical school is learning the answers to these mysteries of medicine and how to fix them. In the past, this gave doctors an aura of deity: they could be trusted to fix just about any ailment that befell man. It was awesome. With time, a sense of invincibility and omnipotence set in.

And like flies to a flame, we bought it. Lock. Stock. Barrel.

In fact, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Waiting To Die

Surgeons are not so good at standing back, yet sometimes doing nothing is exactly what needs to be done. I remember one time that this turned out to be slightly humorous in a morbid sort of way.
I was in my vascular rotation which was not too much fun (except for a short moment). Generally if a patient came in in the late afternoon requiring an operation, your entire night would be destroyed. And there was pretty much nothing worse than an abdominal aorta aneurysm (AAA). Scratch that. A bleeding AAA was a lot worse than an AAA. So when casualties called and said they had a bleeding AAA my heart sank.

The patient was pale and clammy and his heart was racing. But the thing that struck me the most was his age. The man was 89 years old. The casualty officer also mentioned that he had previously been diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease. So, in summary we had a man just this side of ninety with comorbidities and a condition that was known to kill most of its victims thirty years younger than him. The chances of him surviving the operation were dismal. I called my senior. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

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