Notes From the ER logo Did You Know

When Death Approaches


Section overviews

Did You Know?” is a series of informative essays about a variety of medical topics. These essays range from the history and pharmacology of different drugs to explanations of every day medical conditions to common misperceptions. The effort is not to be encyclopedic, but to point out interesting or controversial aspects of these topics.

Related essays:
 - Fever
 - Miscarriage

In “My Life as a Doctor” we include vignettes that reveal our relationship with medicine. Some chronicle our deep satisfaction, others our fears and vulnerability. Here we attempt to remove the invisible barrier that often separates doctors from patients and clinician-writers from readers.

Related essays:

In “The Choices We Make” we explore decisions regarding legal and illegal drugs and other health-related choices such as diet and exercise. We discuss our patients' decisions and their consequences as viewed from our perspective as physicians.

Related essays:

Medicine, Money, and Politics” includes stories drawn from our experiences in both large urban and small community hospitals. We show how the ER is the crossroads where a person may confront the U.S. healthcare system--with its lack of insurance coverage for 50 million Americans, its seemingly arbitrary placement of value on various aspects of life, and its odd blend of ethics, politics, and financial considerations.

Related essays:

In “When Death Approaches,” we write about our experiences with dying patients in the ER. At times we make heroic efforts, only to see our patients die. At other times, when we realize that the time for death has arrived, we talk with our patients and their families about allowing it to occur quickly and humanely. We often assume the role of counselor as our patients endeavor to navigate the final stretches of their life's course.

Related essays:

My Life As a Doctor
The Choices We Make