by Richard Ratzan, M.D.
Last week a patient died. It was not on my watch. And he was a hopeless alcoholic whose death was a long time a comin'. Yet his death has unhinged me and many - most - of my colleagues, from nurses to doctors to aides - in a way that no other death has affected an Emergency Department staff in my 40 years of practice. I did what I ordinarily do when an event intrudes upon and usurps my consciousness - I analyzed it from the perspective of a writer whose assignment it was to understand it well enough to convey to a reader what and how and why it meant what it did for us. For I intuitively realized that only when I could write about it for a reader who did not know Jamie (name changed) would I have achieved clarity of comprehension for myself.
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Rich Ratzan is a poet, classical scholar, ER doc and much more. He can be reached at: richratzanATyahoo.com