Category Archive: Critical Care

What to do with the extremely defensive doctor

Let’s talk about the doctor who is excessively defensive. I divide this kind of communication blocker into two varieties: physician personality and physician mode of practice. The physician with a defensive personality is one who interprets quest…

As a registered nurse, I do not want to violate my patients’ rights anymore

I am a critical care RN, and I violated my patients’ rights. For decades, every day that I worked in the emergency department or the intensive care unit, I violated my patients’ federally protected rights to participate in their plan of care. I didn’t …

This nurse was hiding the truth behind social media

She was new to this ICU. She was young, smart, funny, and considered one of the “cool” nurses. Before we could really get to know her, she exposed her wonderful, fantastic, perfect life all over social media. Their perfect two-story brick house, their …

A patient who touches your heart in unexpected ways

I’m a pediatric hospitalist, and I know that most days in the hospital are routine. But every once in a while, a patient pierces through your armor, and touches your heart in totally unexpected ways. Willow did that to me. Willow was five days old and …

A patient who touches your heart in unexpected ways

I’m a pediatric hospitalist, and I know that most days in the hospital are routine. But every once in a while, a patient pierces through your armor, and touches your heart in totally unexpected ways. Willow did that to me. Willow was five days old and …

Getting a terminal diagnosis for my baby

I knew things weren’t right when a nurse called me on my cell phone just a few minutes after she sent me to pump milk in a private room and said that the medical team wants to meet with my husband and me immediately in a conference room. My suspi…

A nurse won’t let this patient die

The sun sets a cascade of pink and yellow in the window of an ICU room. The slow hum of ventilation dampens the buzzes and beeps from machines. I stand in a room inundated by equipment. A machine to monitor vital signs with purple, green, blue, and red…

The brother I never knew. The mother I never had.

The brother I never knew. He was buried in an unmarked grave with other dead babies. 1960. I am now the age my mother died. She was 64 years old: colon cancer. She was a vacant, negligent mother. During one of my psychology classes in nursing school, w…

A doctor’s poem as an intensivist and obstetric anesthesiologist

The room is half-lit from the sunset. Crowding around the bed, in almost saint-like postures, is the family of our patient who is in her last moments of life. I do my best to console the family, a light touch on the shoulder, and honest stare. Then, th…

What’s the X-factor in life or death medical situations?

I was a brand-new intern in the intensive care unit, and Cassandra was the very first patient I saw there. A petite, slender woman, she was rolled in on a stretcher, accompanied by her tall, athletic husband, Jack. Cassandra was in her 20s, like me — b…

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