We put our faith in medical professionals, but at the end of the day they're human too. Doctors were asked on Reddit: "What is the most unethical thing you have done or you have heard of a fellow doctor doing involving a patient?" And one user, Doctor__Throwaway, had a heartbreaking story to tell.
This happened a few years ago and began when I was a 3rd year medical student during my general surgery clerkship.
Just to get my bias out of the way, I should say I really did not like the surgeons charged with running the clerkship, I thought they were incredibly unprofessional egocentric pricks who only cared about how much a student would kiss their ass. And this went far beyond the stereotype of the "typical surgeon", I shadowed surgeons in highschool and college, and always wanted to be one. But this department was dysfunctional on a level I had never encountered before or since. I could write a book of the insanity I witnessed there.
So anyway, this particular incident starts about a month into the clerkship. By now us med students had settled into our roles there, learned the daily ins and outs. Get there around 5:30 AM, have morning conference and rounds, spend the remainder of the day in the OR or in clinic hours, and get done anywhere between 4-6 PM on a good day. Once or twice a week we would also do call, where after the regular hours concluded we would report to the ER and work there till around 11-midnight.
So as per usual I get through the day and arrive at the ER around the usual time. When I get there the attending covering the ER greets me and gives me a run down of the patients currently there. Most of them are the usual bullshit type stuff we see at the ER - abscesses, a laceration that needs stitches, nothing serious. But he says they have an interesting patient that was just brought in, a woman in her early 70s was just brought in by an ambulance, or actually a second ambulance.
She had gone to her GP complaining of dizziness, and the GP sent her on to the hospital. The GP was concerned about her driving in her state, so they called an ambulance to drive her to the hospital. On the way to the hospital the ambulance got into a car accident and flipped on its side, so the woman was then picked up by a second ambulance and brought to the hospital. Now in addition to getting a workup for the dizziness, there was concern of internal injuries stemming from the car accident.
So she gets a CT, and afterwards gets parked in the "urgent" room of the ER. The ER is divided into surgical and internal sections, and on the surgical side there is a bay room where the more urgent cases get brought for triage care: stabbings, gun shots, serious car accidents. The room has a couple of dedicated nurses - whereas the other 3 surgical ER bays share a group of nurses. The patient is hooked up to every monitor and then some, but she is awake and seemingly in good spirits.
I apologize for the detail here but I want to paint a vivid picture of just how incredibly f*cked up what happened really was.
So at this point I go over and introduce myself, let her know I'm the student doctor on the floor for the evening, and if she needs anything my name is ____ and to just ask. I'll call her Mrs. X at this point for sake of ease.
A little bit later on we get the CT with the radiologists report, says there is no internal injuries noted and no bleeding. The attending reviews the CT and report, as does the resident, and things seem to be fine.
The night goes on, I follow around the resident doing the shit work for the night, mainly cleaning up after he drained a couple of anorectal abscesses (like clockwork every time it was my night in the ER it was as if the moon and stars aligned to obstruct the anal sinuses of many a citizen and send them to my doorstep, but that is not part of this story).
Ok, so I get through the night, periodically checking up on Mrs. X in between my other tasks, and at around 11 PM the attending says its pretty slow so I can call it a night. I say goodbye to the staff, say goodnight to Mrs. X and that I will see her in the morning.
So I go home, crash. Get up the next day and head in around 5:30 for the regular morning meeting that comes before rounds. When I arrive I could immediately sense that something was off in the room. Everyone was visibly on edge and quiet, not even whispering among themselves. They were waiting for the department head to arrive and kick off the meeting.
So the department head arrives and he looks very unhappy. You should note that this many always looks unhappy. He was a German Jewish fellow in his late 60s, and he was tough as nails. Always serious, never a smile, never a compliment. You know in those WWII movies where they portray the Nazi villain as just some caricature of stern seriousness that is incapable of emotion? That was this man. Some of the residents even had a couple of Nazi inspired nicknames for him - which me being Jewish I found incredibly funny. But again not the point, gotta focus and not go on anymore tangents...
He walked into the room without saying a word and sits at the head of the table. There are now 30+ people in the room, mostly attending physicians, residents and med students. About 30 seconds passes without him saying a word, and then he just lets loose. In the span of a few seconds it was just a torrent of hate and vitriol pouring out of his mouth. His face turned so bright red I thought it was going to ignite his hair. And he was talking really fast and was so angry it took a couple of moments to piece together exactly what happened.
At around 1-2 in the morning Mrs. X start having trouble staying conscious. She was rushed to the ICU, and at the time of the meeting she was in a coma with a very low likelihood of recovering.
Apparently the radiologist, attending and resident all missed what was (allegedly - at the time I was not particularly skilled at reading CTs) a very obvious lacerated spleen. And to make matters much, much worse the resident on call wrote in her chart ordering "24 hour observation".
To the uninitiated that may seem normal, or at the very least not problematic. However in this setting when you want someone observed you need to give clear instructions on exactly what you want observed, and at one time intervals. Writing to have the urine output checked every 15 minutes, or blood pressure, or oxygen saturation, or any number of other parameters to assess the status of the patient. These things need to be very clearly enumerated to ensure the patient doesn't get overlooked.
And unfortunately that is what happened to Mrs. X in this case. Without instructions for what to do, the medical staff (attending, resident, nurses) all just sort of passed by her assuming that someone else was on it, or assuming that since there were not clear instructions everything was "alright".
So the verbal ass-reaming continued for what felt like hours. The resident that wrote "24 hour observation" got told several times by the department head that she would be thrown out of the program during his scream session, and this was in front of the entire department staff. The attending on call got it just as bad if not worse - unprofessional, lazy, not worthy of being a doctor. Pretty much anything you can imagine. During his tongue lashing it was implied he should start sending out resumes to other hospitals.
Finally, herr doctor decides to end his scream session by rhetorically asking the doctors involved what they plan to tell the family of Mrs. X, to which they all sat silently. After a moment of awkward silence everyone starts to shuffle out of the room and continue on with their day.
So now fast forward a couple of months. At this point I have finished my surgical clerkship, and a couple of clerkships that followed it. Now I'm rotating through a family medicine clinic in the suburbs about a half hour from the hospital. And on this particular day we get and elderly gentleman coming in complaining of a cough or a cold, I can't quite remember what his original complaint was.
Anyway the doctor I'm working under, lets call him Mike, says that this patient Mr. X is an interesting story. Dr. Mike says that a couple months earlier Mr. X's wife came in complaining of dizziness, and he sent her to the hospital to get a more thorough work-up. Mr. X then tells me what happened to his wife, as he was told by her doctors at the hospital (a surgeon from the department I clerked at).
That on her way to the hospital the first ambulance ran a red light, and in the ensuing accident she suffered an internal injury. After she passed they told him that there was nothing they did everything they could and that she ultimately succumbed to her injuries. When he was telling me this he was getting a bit irate, because he said when he was with her late that night in the ER (this would be prior to being rushed to the ICU) he had been trying to get the attention of a doctor or nurse to no avail for a couple hours because he thought she was worsening.
So with little recourse left and being told that it was the ambulance drivers at fault, he was currently pursuing legal action against them.
I remember him telling me his story so vividly, because I was so overcome with anger during the whole thing. First being reminded of such a stupid f*ck-up by so many people that ultimately led to Mrs. X's untimely death, and then infinitely more angry when it became clear how much he had been lied to or intentionally mislead concerning his wife.
And I vividly remember how not at all conflicted I felt when I told him everything I knew about the situation regarding his wife: that I was on call when she arrived to the ER, that I spoke with her throughout the early evening, that multiple doctors missed the lacerated spleen in her imaging, about the resident's f*ck-up in the chart that escaped notice of the attending and led to his wife being basically ignored until she was comatose, and about the conference the following morning where it was clear that everyone in the department knew what ultimately caused Mrs. X to die, and that he was clearly being lied to by whomever he spoke with.
I remember the look on Doctor Mike's face, almost a look of shock and happiness. Doctor Mike and I had really hit it off from the start of my Family Medicine rotation. Even though I didn't go into Family Med, I really loved the community work. Also Dr. Mike and I had very similar philosophies about medicine and life in general, so we got along really well. And I could see he was happy that I decided to speak up and tell the truth about what happened, instead of just keeping quiet to protect a fellow doctor.
It was at that point of course that I remembered, "shit, I'm still a 3rd year medical student. And I just outed what could be at the minimum a serious lawsuit and at worse a scandal at the primary hospital of the medical school I attend. And I could face very serious retaliation over this."
I don't want you to think I'm exaggerating, there was a fellow student (who admittedly was a real asshole that no one liked) that spoke up about some shady stuff the administration was doing a year earlier, and he got expelled from the program over it. Fortunately for me Mr. X was extremely mindful of my situation, and he and Doctor Mike told me that they would keep my name out of anything that happened going forward.
To this day I still keep in touch with Doctor Mike periodically to see how things are going. Last I had heard about Mr. X was a couple years ago. He had his lawyer go after the doctors responsible and the department of surgery. Knowing this was a case of egregious medical error the hospital offered to settle, and because they were now aware that the doctors actually lied to them and tried to cover up their error, Mr X got a settlement almost an order of magnitude larger then he would have had it been just an egregious error, minus the lying.
I know of course that this does not make up for Mrs. X, and frankly I wish he hadn't settled but taken them to court and try to have the medical licences of all those involved stripped, but Mr. X did what he needed to for him and his family to move on from their tragedy. I am only glad I could play a part in making sure those scumbags that give my profession a bad name paid for their callous disregard of their moral, ethical and legal obligations.
And that is my story of the most unethical thing I have ever seen another doctor do involving a patient.
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People typically think of cannabis legalization as one of those cut and dry things.
If you don't use marijuana, you probably don't want to legalize it.
If you do use marijuana, you are probably pro-legalization.
... except it's not that simple.
Reddit user SaifurCloudstrife asked:
"Redditors opposed to marijuana legalization and decriminalization: Why?"
Normally when these types of questions are asked, you get a bunch of people who are pro-the-thing chiming in and that absolutely happened here.
Interestingly, that opened up discourse that got people actually talking—probably more than they normally would have. The constant back and forth helped people get down to the core of their beliefs and reasons.
I can't say minds or hearts were changed, or even that people had particularly good reasons (and there were some not-great counter arguments, let's be real) when it came right down to it, but conversations were certainly had...
"It's a drug."
"I have two examples in my close family that clearly show how devastating pot can be. This attitude to marijuana reminds me of the attitude towards cocaine in the mid to late seventies when everyone thought it was harmless 'nose candy.' "
"I'm against sentences for drug possession but many people would benefit from dealers serving 3-5 for selling pot."
"Honestly, I think everyone against it should come to Canada for a visit. It's been legal here for 4 years and absolutely NONE of the spooky stories have come true."
"The only real differences is that people buy their weed in nice, clean stores with clear labels and not on street corners and our tax dollars don't go towards harassing people for a weekend indulgence."Giphy
"It stinks and makes people lazy."
"And often the weed smokers don't care if they are a pain in the butt to others and that kind of apathy is a huge no for me."Giphy
"I live in WA, where rec weed is legal."
"I rarely ever smell pot smoke. And I have the nose of a bloodhound."
"Yes, more often than as a teen when it was still illegal, but far less than any amount to be pro-prohibition about it."
"Plus, I mean, there's lots of smells I f*cking hate but wouldn't enact harmful laws over- Axe body spray being one."
"Laws can be made regarding where you can smoke."
"In Australia you can't smoke inside or within a certain distance to entryways. The only space you smell smoke is at an outdoor pub, designated smoking areas and occasionally when walking."
"It took years, but people become accustomed to new rules. Knowing Americans though, you guys will be on the brink of civil war if they brought in similar restrictions."
It's TOO Good
"I've read that the potency in pot these days is a hell of a lot stronger compared to say 20 or 30 yrs ago."
"The huge increase in THC levels should be a huge concern for people. The pot being legalized today is not the same I smoked when I was much younger."
"This argument has been rolled out again and again since I was in elementary school (~30 years ago) and I never understood it."
"THC is remarkably non-toxic, it's so much less toxic than many common substances people ingest on a regular basis (aspirin, and plenty of other OTC meds, as examples), to the point where actual THC toxicity is caused by physical rather than chemical/metabolic actions."
"Smoked cannabis is also much easier to titrate (dose appropriately), since the effects are nearly instantaneous - take a couple hits and you'll know if you've had enough within seconds."Giphy
"As opposed to an accidental edible overdose where you might not know for a couple hours that you've taken a heroic dose."
"So a higher % of THC by weight in cannabis flower shouldn't be an issue, especially considering that back in D.A.R.E. they used to tell us that smoking cannabis was SO MUCH WORSE than smoking tobacco."
"Cannabis was supposedly so much 'harsher,' one joint contains 'toxins' equivalent to an entire pack of cigs, etc...which is total bull, but even if that were true...wouldn't that mean that stronger cannabis is less harmful, since you don't have to smoke so much to achieve the desired effect?"
"Can't have it both ways."
It is high potency because it is illegal. It's easier to transport a half pound of skunk than 10 pounds of trash weed."
"Look at states that have legalized. There are low thc strains available and easily accessible."
"Because dipsh*ts will start smoking it in public places where others can not really avoid it, like is the case with cigarettes currently."
"Also yes: F*ck cigarettes."
"Yep my problem is drugs in public."
"I do not care if you do drugs as long as your doing them in a private place. I don't want to breathe in your smoke and get lung cancer."
"I don't especially care what folks get up to on their own, it's when they make everyone around them a participant that it aggravates me."
"Plus, depending on the setting, it's really inconsiderate."
"I have a friend whose job does random drug testing and he left a bar because a bunch of folks were smoking inside and he was worried about work."Giphy
Go Away, Government!
"I'm for legalization but as someone that worked for corporate cannabis, I'd loathe seeing those scums run the market."
"My state Governor tried writing a recreational cannabis bill on their own terms since we are surrounded by recreational territories."
"They stated they didn't want it to lead to a ballot measure because that's worst case scenario (didnt think voters were educated) than proceeded to write the most comically bad legalization bill that existed - before completely dropping it because they couldn't write a competent law."
"I am about as anti pot as they come, but if they are going to legalize it, why wouldn't they make it legal to grow your own? (Rhetorical- I know the answer… same reason "they" are legalizing it… tax money)"
"This is what I am screaming. For them it's only about money."
"They are waiting for the rich to install a profit making infrastructure before they let us peasants enjoy anything."Giphy
"If I had any good reason it's because idiots insist it's not addictive and it doesn't impede your senses. So they drive and do dangerous sh*t while high."
"My issue isn't the severity of the impediment. It's that people refuse to admit that it does alter the mind."
"I already have one person insist they smoke weed and drive because they know their body."
"Now imagine if someone openly said that about alcohol and how you'd react. It's a really dumb mentality to have."
"If anything I'd push for it to be illegalized ALONG WITH alcohol and cigarettes."
"But prohibition taught us that is not the way to go."Giphy
The Same Path As Alcohol
"I believe that if it was legalized, it would become a much bigger part in society, much like how alcohol is now."
"I do have a problem with public drinking and personally view alcohol as much worse compared to marijuana."
"However, since drinking is already so ingrained in our society, it's not like we can get rid of it. I'm just hoping that weed doesn't follow in the same path as alcohol."Giphy
"Im so sick of all these CBD oil pyramid schemes popping up!"
"The testimonials are all, 'I broke my spine in half and had to get it surgically fused together. Now all I have to do is rub a drop of CBD on it, and the pain is gone!' "
"And I'm not against it, I actually use high grade CBD at night to help me sleep. I fucking hate going through a rep though, they always try to hard sell me on topical CBD for my back pain that's like $80 for a little jar, or $30 bath bombs."
"I have discs squeezing out of my spine, I'm pretty sure a dab of hemp oil is gonna do jack shit for that."
"And the cancer patient abuse!"
"Smoking or ingesting edibles with THC for pain management and appetite is super helpful for cancer patients, but cbd wont do anything. Not to mention getting an ounce of good weed wont set you back much, but getting a tiny vial of cbd can set you back a couple hundred bucks."
"With our healthcare system in the states, we know damn well cancer patients are already in a hole of debt. I'm worried legalizing will encourage these CBD lies."
"It's the new snake oil."
"My MIL is that person. She's was touting its Indica strains ability to outright cure cancer the last I saw her."
"Cancer patients get hit very hard with the cannabis oil scams. What kind of evil sh*t do you need to be to take advantage of desperate people?"
"I agree with you about people thinking its the grand cure all, but that's why I feel we SHOULD legalize."
"The main reason I want it legalize is so they can do more research on the things it does help. It's effect on tremors alone is fascinating."Giphy
So what have we really learned here? I'm not really certain.
Lots of people's reasons seemed under-informed, but just as many people had legitimate concerns.
Sure, those concerns could just as easily be applied to alcohol, but lots of Redditors admitted that and seemed to take LARGER issue with alcohol than cannabis. It was honestly difficult to find anyone (aside from the smell people) who was 100% against it.
And that, dear reader, is possibly the biggest takeaway from this. Attitudes are changing.
Sorry, D.A.R.E.—looks like we said yes to drugs. Well, cannabis at least.
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Chosen family is family. Sometimes they are the closest and most important family. Just because you share blood with someone, doesn't mean you have to form a bond.
That's why best friends are so important.
BFFs are forged in many ways. They're there for you in triumph and sorrow. They hold your hand. T
They know where the bodies are buried because they helped bury them. That's why it's so heartbreaking to lose them.
It's just a bitter pill to swallow when it's a relationship you thought was going to be endless.
Redditor FindingDale wanted to hear all the reasons why sometimes we just have to say goodbye to certain people in life, by asking:
How did you lose your best friend?
I've lost a few besties. Some through death. Some through personal growth and some just because it was time. That was an important lesson. Just like lovers, friends also outgrow one another.
I'm ExhaustedI Cant Modern Family GIF by HULUGiphy
"I got tired of it being all about her all of the time. I couldn't tell her anything in my life good or bad because she would make it about herself." ~ Wide-Fig-1063
"He was the passenger in a single-car accident. The driver was drunk, showing off, and drifting on an unfamiliar dirt road in California. They found the car at the bottom of a 70-foot cliff. Everyone in the car walked away except my friend, who died instantly."
"He was already passed out drunk himself so he likely didn't feel anything, but it was still such a terrible senseless way to go. That was 10 years ago last June. He was barely 21, the nicest guy you'd ever meet, and one hell of a bassist. Miss ya, Jake." ~ FormerLurker3
"Best friends since we were 12. Best Man at my wedding when we were 28. Day after the wedding he never spoke to me again. No explanation. Calls and texts went unanswered. He would avoid being at any social event I would be at, which was a few because we had the same circle of friends. Tried for two years to keep that friendship alive." ~ Tionek
"I had a weird dynamic to continue because of trauma. We had been friends for most of our lives (26 years) and every conversation was all about her. I was fine with that because she had a traumatic childhood and I knew she wasn't super socially with it. I'm happy to listen when my friends need it."
"Then she just unloaded on me saying I wasn't listening enough to her problems and how I had mistreated her by not asking enough pointed questions about abuse she had suffered as a kid. This was days after a three hour call where she did all the talking and it was mostly about her abuse."
"I was six months pregnant at the time and all I could think was "do I really have the bandwidth to take care of two babies?" I haven't spoken to her since." ~ keepinitcornmeal
It's WeirdFriends Tv GIFGiphy
"His wife tried to sleep with me. I didn't let it happen and I told him about it. They reconciled and had more kids, then it got weird whenever I was around so we drifted apart." ~ mycowild
Yeah, beware the partner of a loved one who is trying to trap you in a scandal. They are shady. Take that drama and run fast and far.
Why?Peering Looking GIF by MOODMANGiphy
"No idea. He slowly stopped answering calls, texts, emails... his wife, even more so. I'd occasionally stop by to see them and everything appeared to be OK. They never stopped to see us, even though his mother lived just a few miles away. I just quit trying." ~ NagromTrebloc
"It was October 16, 2015. I was working from home that day when I saw a call from him at around 9:15am. I had to ignore the call because I was in an online meeting. At 2pm my Dad calls my phone, which is unusual since he knows I'm working. I answer it."
"He is speaking quietly and very calmly. He says, "Son, I love you very much. I have some terrible news. Jared passed away this morning." Jared's wife was calling me from his phone to say she found him dead. I couldn't process what he was saying."
"I said, "That's not funny. Jared, his wife and me and my wife were supposed to meet up next weekend for dinner." Jared had sleep apnea surgery that same week. He had taken a painkiller and Benadryl together. It stopped his heart. He died 2 days before his 40th birthday. We were friends since grade school."
"We did everything together, he was my brother. He was the best man at my wedding earlier that year. I had just shared my son's heartbeat with him via a text message 2 days before. Jared was so excited to be his crazy uncle. I miss him every single day." ~ SnooCapers1425
"Codependency. I became basically obsessed with her and it just became too toxic. I had to cut it off because it was eating me up inside and she didn't deserve how I was treating her." ~ SuccessfulEggplant82
"Good on you for recognizing the problem you were having. It takes a lot (and I mean a crap ton) for an individual to come to this realization. Most people like to live in denial or fight it. I did the same thing and by the time I realized it, it was to late. I hope your able to get through it." ~ Nakanon85
"I noticed that he never came to my place to catch up. I stopped going over to his place to see how long until he noticed.... It's been 5 years now 🤷♂️." ~ Mr_Nonesuch
"Over the years I have observed in number of friendships that its always me that makes the call. They always are delighted to hear from me. If I organise something they come. They just don't make the effort. I have been best man five times so I don't think that its because the friendships are not valued. I don't know, am I missing something?" ~ Yarray2
"My ex wife. Even after we split we stayed close, co-parenting, helping each other out. She died 3.5 years ago. I could have made peace I think but after her death and our daughter was living with me full time I found out about how abusive my ex had been to her when I was around and it felt like losing her all over."
"Like I thought I knew who she was in the 13 years we'd had both together and separated, but it turns out I knew nothing. Now I'm just angry about it, like how dare you get to do this crap and then leave me to clean up your mess."
"How dare you have peace when my daughter has nothing but struggles and therapy. I felt like we were robbed of the good person, the good mother I thought she was." ~ Scarecrowqueen
Far Far Away...Jake Gyllenhaal Reaction GIF by MOODMANGiphy
"Friend moved to the other side of the planet, with their spouse, to be nearer to both their families. I never understood what real friendship was before friend was in my life; and now they're alive, but not here." ~ ClutchCrgo
One of the natural parts of life... saying goodbye. Or in some cases getting ghosted and forgotten. Either way, chin up.
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Humans have had an undeniably significant impact on our environment and the other species that inhabit the planet with us.
What might happen if humans weren't here to exert that influence, though?
What if we never had?
Reddit user Mompkey asked:
"Which species do you think would be dominant if humans didn't exist?"
"Wolves. They can, and have, successfully adapted to most of the various biomes on the planet."
"There's a reason we domesticated them and took them everywhere with us."Giphy
- Everything is garbage
- Garbage is delicious"
"I would agree, but now I'm wondering if our presence is the reason cockroaches have thrived as well as they have."Giphy
"Sharks, they are the dominant species on 3/4 of the Earth's surface already, they have survived mass extinctions and would thrive even more without humans mucking up their habitat."Giphy
"Humans are the only species that seek to dominate others. Other animals just want to live in the balance of nature. They're just trying to survive, they don't have time to take over the world."
"Pinky and The Brain theme song played in my head."Giphy
"We've killed off so many throughout history but of the ones that remains intelligence and versatility would be the key factors. Their food supply and habitat would greatly increase in our absence so with this being said.........primates."
"We are simply the superior primate therefore we are the dominant species. That opposable thumb is a mf when you have a large brain."
"Wouldn't it be just another off shoot of humans like the Neanderthal or heidelbergensis?"Giphy
While we'll probably never know definitively which species would truly thrive without us around, it's still fun to speculate.
Do you have thoughts?
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