Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Story I Just Thought About

I was a general practitioner for 3 years before I went into anaesthesiology. I suppose I might have been ahead if I had just gone right into anaesthesia but I at least paid off my loans, was able to make a down payment on a house and of course saw some pretty interesting stuff.

I mostly did locums although I did spend 6 months in one place on two occasions. The second time was in a small town in BC. I actually intended to stay there and become a small town country doctor but that didn't work out.

There were 7 other docs in the town; 5 in one clinic and 2 others in the clinic where I was hired. There was an older ex-missionary doctor and a younger doctor who was 3 years ahead of me in medical school. The younger doctor was at that time the second highest billing doctor in BC.

One evening I was on call and had just seen someone in the ER when the nurses asked if I would pronounce death on a patient. She was a patient of the younger of my two partners. She was well into her 80s and had been bothered by stasis ulcers and other things that just fall apart when you are that old. I had seen her a few times on call, I remember her as a very pleasant lady, with it and with a good sense of humour. I went into see her and sure enough she was dead. After spending the requisite time time feeling for a pulse, listening for a heart beat and looking at the pupils, I walked back to the nursing station to write a note in the chart.

At that point one of nurses asked me to talk to my partner, the patient's family doctor. "Hi BH", said my partner, "I heard Mrs. X just died. Do you mind going in and working on her for while?". "That is a really sick joke", I thought and just sort of chuckled into the phone something like, "Yeah right". "No", said my partner, "Can you go back and run an arrest on her?". "Sure", I muttered and hung up. Of course I never went back to her room.


burnttoast said...

You aren't done with this, right? Was there no reason, even irrational or unethical, behind this request? A bet on day of death? A macabre test for the new guy? A religious belief pertaining to CPR as a God given right? Inquiring minds want to know!

Bleeding Heart said...

I never quite figured out why he did that. He wasn't religious although his partner was. He did have quite strong beliefs about never giving up and also about doing what the patient or the patient's relatives wanted no matter how futile or in some cases unethical it was.

I have lots of stories about this individual who is still practising in the same community. I shall tell them some time.