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02 June 2009

I See Dead People

Ok, so this week I started my new rotation: Forensic Pathology. I get to spend every morning with the Erie County Medical Examiner. Now, you might ask what would make this a good rotation for an E.D. Doc. Well, let me tell you...

1. You get a great review of anatomy. No where else do you get the chance to see organs up close and personal. You get back to your first year of medical school when you were learning how things were connected and where everything went. And, you get to touch things again... I love lungs... they're crunchy like Rice Krispies!

2. You can see what happens to the insides of those patients that never make it to the Emergency Department. I remember doing the rotation in medical school and seeing the dissected aorta that instantly killed a victim of a car crash. You could imagine the shearing force that it would take to rip the aorta in half. You see the routes that bullets and knives take as they make their deadly way through the human body. You learn to recognize entry and exit wounds and how to follow their paths.

3. You can see the natural progression of disease. You see the lungs of a young person, and then those of an older person who has spent their life smoking. You see the clean coronaries of a 20 year old, and the beginnings of atherosclerosis in a 40 year old.

4. You gain a different perspective on your living patients. A lot of the M.E. patients come with crime scene photos. You see how they live, how they died, and you can better understand where your patients are coming from.

5. You see life differently. No matter who you are, everyone dies. I think it make you appreciate your life and that of those around you just that much more.

Since I can't talk specifically about the findings on the cases we are doing, I can at least let you know the cases we worked on:

Yesterday's and today's cases that I saw the "posts" (post-mortems) on:
Lake Floater
Car Crash
Drug Overdoses

Grand Rounds tomorrow and then back to the action on Thursday!


Julie said...

OMG, I always wanted to be a forensic nurse. Fascinating work. I think about all those things while I am taking care of patients, what they were like when they were young, what in their lifestyles caused their conditions, how they got to be where they are now. I bet it is a fascinating rotation.

a corgi said...

I agree with what Julie said, it would be fascinating. I think I would have trouble getting past the fact that they were once alive and wondered who they left behind, how their families are coping with their loss, did the dead person know Jesus? For me, it would be overwhelming, but I'm looking forward to reading what you share as you can share it.

(did you get my invite into my private blog? if you didn't, let me know)


Lisa said...

This sounds so CSI and I am picturing various scenes I recall as I read. This would be fascinating (once I got used to the "gore" of it).

My cousins daughter is 18 and has made her life choice to be a forensic pathologist. She wants to work in a big city - I had no idea there was so much schooling involved.