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The Unforgettable Death of My Forgotten Patient

Posted on 08/26/2015

Wall Street Journal — Ms. M was not the patient I thought I would reminisce about for months after she had passed away, but her difficult death clung to me. She was miserable, mean, fetid and foulmouthed. She clawed at my hands as I tried to place my stethoscope on her chest and spat in my face as I bowed my head to listen to her heart. In between vivid hallucinations and violent outbursts, she cursed and told me I knew nothing.

Tormented by pain, Ms. M died alone, except for the doctors and nurses who had found their way into her life by chance after others had long ago pulled away and left her forgotten. Shortly after arriving at the hospital from her state-run nursing home, she was deemed “non-decisional,” meaning two physicians agreed that she lacked the capacity to understand and communicate information needed to make medical treatment decisions.

Read the full opinion piece here.