Jonathan Welch was a 33 year old ER doctor in Boston when he got the call from an ER doctor in Wisconsin that his mother had a dangerous form of sepsis. He caught the next flight but, on reaching the hospital, saw that several of the necessary steps to prevent the infection from becoming deadly had not been taken. There was no cardiac monitor. Her vital signs had been recorded infrequently, and showed serious problems. And the sepsis protocol had not been started because her doctor had left for the day. He demanded that she be moved to the ICU. But that didn’t end the nightmare, and she ultimately died because her doctors had acted too slowly.
The story, published in 2012, details Welch’s frustrations, and then his ethical dilemma as he decided whether to sue the care providers whose missteps had cost him his mother. It is a fascinating look into the mind of a doctor who had to face the conflicting emotions we hear from grieving families all too often: how do we balance the need for accountability and change with our own need for closure and affection for our longtime doctors?
(Graphic above a screenshot from Washington Post website.)