Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Dr. Michael Davidson
We like to think doctors are kind, selfless people, working tirelessly to help the sickest and neediest human beings with little regards for our own well being. Unfortunately, not everybody feels the same way. The shocking murder two days ago of Dr. Michael Davidson, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, once again underscores the precarious situation physicians face every day when dealing with people who may not be thinking rationally when confronted with severe illness, either in themselves or in a family member.

Dr. Davidson was shot in his own medical office by the son of a deceased former patient, Stephen Pasceri. He then turned the gun on himself and died of self inflected gun shot wounds. Police investigations have not yet revealed the reasons why Mr. Pasceri decided to shoot the surgeon. His family is equally baffled by the violence, stating they felt their mother received good care while under Dr. Davidson's watch.

Dr. Davidson was only 44 years old. He was essentially just getting started with what was supposed to be a long and brilliant career. When you take into consideration the extremely long road that's required to become a cardiac surgeon--medical school, surgical residency, cardiothoracic fellowship--it's clear that he had only been in practice a few years. It's tragic that so much sacrifice he took to become a surgeon could be so easily extinguished by a crazed individual with no regard for human life. He leaves behind three children and a wife who is seven month pregnant.

This isn't the first time a surgeon, was murdered by a disgruntled individual in his own office. Back in 2013, a urologist, Dr. Ronald Gilbert in Orange County, was shot and killed by a patient unhappy with his prostate surgery performed 21 years prior to the shooting. He was not the patient's surgeon but was unlucky enough to have been chosen by the gunman for retribution.

More commonly, doctors and nurses have to deal with verbal and sometimes physical abuse from our patients regularly. Any healthcare professional can easily rattle off instances where patients have swung at them with fists, or tried to kick them while lying on a gurney. We've been yelled at, spit upon, threatened with legal action, all while we're doing the best we can to heal the patient. Sometimes we wonder if facing these confrontations is worth the sacrifice to our own dignity and well being. The answer of course is yes, because taking care of patients is our ultimate goal, no matter how much we too have to suffer before they understand that.

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