STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Patient’s shocking death alone in a public toilet made me question end-of-life care – by Andrew Buckley – A doctor working in a NHS hospital

“Cardiac arrest, public toilets” proclaimed the tinny speaker in the intensive care pager. Clutching the grab bag and defibrillator I headed toward the scene, considering what we were likely to find. There’s an unwritten rule of cardiac arrest: if it’s in a public place, it’s always a syncopal episode, a faint.

A number of responders had arrived before me at the cramped and panicked toilet area and started the well-trodden resuscitation path, delivering CPR to an elderly man we’ll call John. John had not fainted. Evidence of rigor mortis, the stiffening that sets in when the muscles stop receiving oxygen, was already manifest, and his face showed the calm, waxen permanence of death we hospital doctors become so familiar with.

The defibrillator, a machine that allows for rapid assessment of the heart, confirmed the complete absence of electrical activity. A search through his personal effects while chest compressions were ongoing revealed an elegantly handwritten note, written without fear or prejudice, with admirable perspicacity and with a strong undertone of defiance.

Please click on the link to read more

http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/views-from-the-nhs-frontline/2015/jan/28/dignity-death-assisted-suicide-end-life-care?CMP=share_btn_fb

Close-up-of-pen-writing-o-012

 

The letter we found in his pocket while trying to save his life began: “Dear the doctors and nurses of [our hospital]” and went on to neatly summarise a predicament affecting so many in society. Photograph: Alamy

Filed under: Hospital, Uncategorized, , ,

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