Browsing All Posts filed under »Uncategorized«

Survivors: Our Newest Patients

November 5, 2013 by


Sudden death. We see it every day in the emergency room, the ICU, on the trauma service. A patient comes in and no matter what we do we are going to lose him within minutes or maybe hours. What we do next could have a lifelong impact on that patient’s survivors. But why? Our patient […]

Bodies, Death, Rituals, and Why the Trio Matters for Kids

January 31, 2013 by


Last week I spent a fair amount of time on the phone with the media. A few nights prior to my conversations, two teenage boys went onto a lake to go ice fishing. They both fell through and drowned. As the community grieved these painful deaths, they community members waited on the shore of the […]

“I’m not trying to squeeze one more day out if it’s a bad day.”

January 20, 2013 by


Theresa Brown, a contributor to In Fact Books’ forthcoming I Wasn’t Strong Like This: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, reflects on end-of-life decisions at the New York Times’ “Well” blog. She writes about a nurse, Amy, who in 2010 received a diagnosis of Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer and opted for quality of life […]

The Corpse Leads, We Follow: Medical Intervention at the End of Life

January 10, 2013 by


Those of us who labor in the techno-confused trenches of American medicine need little reminder of how the profit driven machine seems to ramp up the closer a person is to death. We’ve counted the twenty drips hung around the patient in ICU Bed 2, glittering and glowing like the control panel of a jet […]

Justice Delayed…

September 30, 2012 by


I followed a Medicare fraud case this year where a nursing home owner and his wife were convicted of using Medicare and Medicaid funds for personal use while their nursing home residents suffered abusive conditions.  The couple ran two nursing homes in Atlanta, Georgia from 2004-2007. As the story unfolded, I questioned what took so […]

Conversations That Matter

September 6, 2012 by


Every day I am confronted by the snarl of technology-gone-awry known as the American system of healthcare. The good news is we have the best healthcare technology available. The bad news is we don’t always know how or when to use these expensive tools, particularly at the end of life. This is why the mission […]

In the Service of the Good

August 30, 2012 by


Far from the fiery six-winged beings crying holy, holy, holy with their flaming swords held high, angels today have come to represent benevolent, compassionate, sentimental presences that shine with new age light. People often called us angels when we arrived on their doorsteps but it was our strangeness with death as much as our familiarity […]

They Prey on the Elderly

June 26, 2012 by


Several years ago, a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease had to be placed in an assisted living facility.  She was eight-five at the time.  During the transition we found a collection bill for a casket no one knew she had purchased.  I called the number on the statement and was given the run-around for […]

End of Life Paperwork: Should you hire a consultant?

June 18, 2012 by


Jane Brody’s recent article on advanced healthcare directives in the New York Times gave voice to something I’ve been wondering for a long time. These forms have gotten increasingly complex over the years. I know because more and more friends, relatives and relatives of friends are sending them to me to review. Can anyone who is […]

Plan On a Messy Ending

June 10, 2012 by


As we all know, we can’t script the end of our lives, choose the time, date or even the disease that will kill us. What we can plan is how much medical intervention is heaved our way in the final days when our families are overcome by grief and possibly confusing and conflicting information. But […]