Having worked in hospitals for more than two decades, including serving as medical director of the A&E department of a large teaching hospital in New York, I can tell you unequivocally that unless you are in mortal danger, stay away from hospitals.If you are acutely ill - if you are in a car accident, are having a heart attack, have acute exacerbations of chronic diseases such as obstructive pulmonary disease or liver failure, if you can't breathe without assistance or are bleeding uncontrollably - you certainly need hospital care. Hospitals are among the worst places to be if you're sick.The woman was my mother's age and her husband could have been my father.Did I want my parents to be treated in the way I'd dealt with this poor woman?Stress levels were as high as they come, but so were his salary and the perks.Mark was 3½ st overweight and his eating and drinking habits were the opposite of healthy living.To this day it provides the basic ground rules for the practice of medicine, which is a good thing when used to improve public health generally, but can be deadly if applied as a one-size-fits-all fix to every patient.
There were traces of blood in the vomit, most likely due to the strain of being sick, which may have torn some superficial blood vessels in his oesophagus, but the team wanted to rule out something more serious.No patient can afford to believe 'doctor knows best'.Even if you have one who is wonderful, well-trained and who genuinely cares, the system is so broken you still can't turn over complete control of your health.Nearly 30 years on, I've relived that moment over and over again. I think what matters more is the kindness with which we choose to live our lives - and I'd like to think this is what my patients experience with my care now.I suspected then, and I am certain now, that what I did was not the right thing, nor was it what modern medical practice should be. The decent way to handle that situation would have been to sit down with the husband and tell him his wife was going to die; to allow husband and wife to be together for the few hours she had left in the privacy of a quiet room. The problem with modern medicine is that it doesn't train doctors to see patients as individuals.