04 March 2010
So, I just spent the last week in Boston. From July of '04 to June of '05 I was there as a Junior Fellow in Cardiac Surgery. Basically, I was the Cardiac Surgery ICU scutmonkey. Well, one of them actually as there were four of us hired that year. My days and nights were spent taking care of the many, many different types of cardiac surgery patients in the ICU. I learned a lot during that year. Many of the events of that year helped mold me into the type of physician that I would want to become. I think back to that time as an amazing experience. However, during the last several months I have had to look back at that experience and wonder if I even realized then how a simple series of actions could lead me to spend four days in a courthouse; three of which were on the witness stand.
Now, I like to think of myself as a pretty honest, thoughtful, considerate physician who lives by the philosophy of "Primum non nocere" - "First do no harm." I think this governs my actions even more than the Hippocratic Oath. And, in general, I don't like (not that anyone does) being asked in a public forum to defend my actions, my honesty, my very integrity. But I had to.
I'm not going to delve into the whole experience which at times left me feeling every emotion from pure anger, to self-doubt, to honest reflection, to sheer relief. I was lucky to have one of my colleagues from that time there to support and share in the experience. If anything, we were a sounding board to each other about our thoughts on the day, the lawyers, the plaintiffs. We also shared memories of the time. And, revisted a few of our old haunting grounds.
She's continued on in surgery and will graduate this year and start her practice of medicine. I changed to emergency medicine and will start my own practice later this year. We're amazed at what we remember from that time and what we've done since then. In a lot of ways both of us have been changed by this experience. I feel for the better... however, just don't get me started in an argument about healthcare reform... except for my awesome legal team I'll be quoting Shakespeare, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."