Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Simple Act

Today I did one of the most theraputic things I've done in a long time. I bought one of my patients a newspaper.

Granted, there have been a couple of times in the past few months when I may have had a more direct impact on someone's health...there were some tense times in the emergency room early on, where a chest tube or central line, guided by my hand, was the difference between life and death. But the reality is that these moments, occuring between each commercial break on the television version of my job, are actually rather few and far between. So often the best things we do for patients is not subscribing a new medication of dubious benefit (and most of them are, I think), but the little things we do to restore the humanity of someone who has been lying in a bed for a month, wondering about how the horse races have been going in his absence.

Still, I happend through our emergency room this afternoon just as a couple of serious cases were coming through, with the oiled machinery of our trauma apparatus swinging into action and smoothly handling the influx of some tremendously ill patients. I was proud to belong to that system, and to know that the people I saw at death's door in the ER will in all liklihood (and against all odds) walk out the doors again, someday.

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