Monday, September 22, 2008

How Should We Honor Death in a Hospital?

By Dena Rifkin, MD

Last week, I wrote about going to the hospital at night to see a very sick patient. I saw him only once, and this week I found out that he died a few days later.

When I logged in to the hospital’s computer system to check lab results on another patient, my “census”—the list of patients I’ve seen recently—popped up and his name was there.

Next to each patient’s name are icons: symbols for male or female; a walk-light stick figure showing that the patient is ambulatory; a red or green box, indicating new lab results. Next to this patient’s name was a forbidding white box on a black background with a long white line drawn through it. That meant he had died. Read More

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