Each day we scan what we can in order to craft something that advances our message about the dangers of poorly considered HCR efforts and the lack of physician “involvement” in whatever HCR effort is made. One of our colleagues emailed us an article from the WSJ this morning and we must say: we consider ourselves fortunate to have colleagues like this. This person in particular is the kind of doctor we fear the current Obama HCR effort will force out of medicine. He is a neurosurgeon and is widely considered to be the best at his craft on the West coast and perhaps one of the top 10 or 20 in the United States. Once, while on call, he and I were caring for a 19 year old who crashed his car at high speed on the 101 freeway in Southern California. He was intoxicated, with a severe head injury and his passenger had died. This young man was a medical challenge to keep alive– and the surgeon was clearly anxious and concerned about whether or not he could get the bleeding in the brain under control. I asked him, flat out at 3am: “Why do you do this? You could have retired years ago comfortably, you don’t need to be here at 3am on a Tuesday.”. He stopped operating (always a worrisome sign to an Anesthesiologist), looked at me very strongly and said
- “Sometimes you just have to doctor up.”
This man is from a medical generation one higher than me– and despite the fact I had left Harvard and its amazing teachers years before, at 3am on that morning, in that OR, over that kids bloody brains, I was schooled, humbled and in awe. Sometimes you just have to doctor up.