Showing posts with label Death of a surgeon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death of a surgeon. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Disgruntled Patient

Dr. Ronald Gilbert, M.D.
Shocking news out of Orange County, CA. Yesterday a patient by the name of Stanwood Elkus went to his urologist's office at the prestigious Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and shot him to death. Dr. Ronald Gilbert had been treating Mr. Elkus for his long standing prostate problems. According to his neighbors, Mr. Elkus would frequently complain about his medical issues. It is unclear how long he had been a patient of Dr. Gilbert.

Dr. Gilbert had once been the Chief of the Department of Urology. He had been practicing at Hoag for twenty years. Tomorrow would have been his 53rd birthday. He leaves behind a wife and two children. R.I.P.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Death of a surgeon

There is a shrine in one of the operating rooms at my surgery center. It is dedicated to a young surgeon who died a few years ago. The shrine consists of his framed picture and a mix music CD he liked to play while operating. He always liked to finish his cases playing Quiet Riot's "We're not gonna take it."

Working in that room the other day, I'm reminded of one of the most surreal moments in my life. I was on call on a Saturday night. That surgeon books a laparoscopic appendectomy to start around midnight. He is very nice and well liked by all the staff. He comes in cheerful as usual. The case goes well without any drama. He leaves the operating room around 2:00 AM, saying thanks and goodnight to everybody. He looked the picture of health and good cheer.

Come Monday morning he doesn't show up to the operating room, which is extremely unusual for him. The OR pages him and calls his cell phone without success. They call the police to his place. He is found dead in his bed. No signs of foul play. He was single with no dependents. Everybody is completely shocked. Word spreads quickly throughtout the hospital. Some nurses are brought to tears. I realized I may have been the last person he saw and spoke to before he died. The hospital held a memorial for him and he was eulegized by many surgeons and anesthesiologists. He was only forty years old.