Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Katrina Doc

Good to see Dr. Pou will not be facing criminal charges for having the unholy gall to attempt to assuage the suffering of ICU patients abandoned by the United States government during the Katrina tragedy. Yet another attempt by right wing fascist America to politicize a very specific, personal act of bravery and compassion.

Listen, let's not be naive here. How do you think people die in ICU's? You really think the angel of God descends and gently lifts their soul from their earthly bodies, as they fall into the deep restful sleep of oblivion, a slight smile on blissfully parted lips? "Turning off the machines" and "pulling the plug" doesn't always lead to painless, comforting death. Often you watch them thrash, eyes go wide, muscles twitching, as they slowly suffocate. It's inhuman. No one should die like that. To have to go from being fully supported on a ventilator to having the machine flipped off, it's like someone pushing a pillow on your face. To not give any morphine or heavy sedation would be the unethical move. I had an ICU nurse who made me watch a patient die after I had written a DNR-CC order. It was the worst thing I've ever seen. Her eyes popping out of her head. The pain. Worse, the fear that seemed to seize her poor, wasted body. The nurse had 20mg of morphine in her hand. Give it, I stammered. All of it. She drifted off to sleep, death following shortly therafter. Granted, technically, you're euthanizing the patient; hastening the end. But it's the right thing to do, as far as I'm concerned.

8 comments:

Bongi said...

moralising can be a slipery slope. careful with statements like it's the right thing to do, especially followed by period. too rigid. too dogmatic.

buckeye surgeon said...

I agree, the period had to go. The rest stands.

Bongi said...

well worded.

Anne said...

Hmmmm. . .I couldn't find an email address, so I'll have to comment here. I'm on the other end of the spectrum - a surgery hopeful. We happen to live in the same area. What do you do?

buckeye surgeon said...

I'm a general surgeon anne. Bread and butter surgical cases, mostly, with the occasional interesting/complicated patient.

Anne said...

They still exist?! Everyone I talk to says general surgeons are going by the way-side. That or ortho is exactly what I want to do. I am so jealous. Maybe someday, if I promise to be on my best behaviour, you might let me shadow you. Keep up the good blog.

Doc's Girl said...

Another fellow Buckeye, yay...:)

The boyfriend is a Buckeye and, yes, my friends give me a lot of shit about it. (I've always lived in Michigan--he's here for residency.) We'll probably end up in Columbus after he's done with everything...

About your post, I'm also glad that the doctors weren't convicted--reading how many people abandoned New Orleans and they actually stayed and did their job. So sad what they subject people to...especially in such a desperate situation as Katrina was.

buckeye surgeon said...

My wife is a Wolverine. Needless to say, we make sure we have separate plans for that third Saturday in november every year.