I was spending the day in the Emergency Department of a community hospital. Though it was a small department with just one doctor and two nurses, it got so busy at one point in the day that the doctor gave me the opportunity to get involved actively, rather than just shadow her. Though I had just finished my first-year of medical school at the time, she had me speaking with and examining patients on my own and reporting back to her with a plan for us to treat them together.
Things were going smoothly; most of the patients I saw presented with either non-urgent aches or minor trauma, along with the occasional laceration or scraped knee. One of the patients I was assigned, however, presented me with a unique challenge. The patient, whom I’ll call Mrs. M to keep her identity confidential, was a woman in her early 70’s. She…
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