How to save a life: physician humanity

Bear with me this morning because I am growing very weary of my physician colleagues enduring all sorts of haranguing for being hateful, pharma shills who only want to cut, burn, and poison.

I was extremely fortunate, personally and professionally, to train in two clinical units with strong basic science programs. As such, I worked at the bench with MD fellows and we schooled each other on our respective strengths. I loved when when my colleagues would come back from clinic and tell me of experiences that put our bench work in real world perspective. Yes, not all bench work is immediately applicable clinically, but these day-to-day experiences influenced how I view basic research. Moreover, these relationships continue to serve me and my laboratory today.

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One of my most meaningful relationships was with the wife and husband MD partnership described in this post by Alittleclarity about her father's cardiac surgery consultation. My old buddy, Dr John (Jay) Reusch Jr, is pretty well-known in the Colorado Front Range having been on the cover of last year's Top Docs issue of Denver's 5280 magazine. He taught me a great deal about life, fatherhood, music, and humanity. And if I ever needed cardiac surgery, I'd be at his clinic in a heartbeat - as it were.

So, I loved stumbling on this post that compared and contrasted how different physicians view the same patient.

A few years ago, Jay Reusch helped my Dad deal with getting a pacemaker. Last year, he was on the cover of Denver's 5280 magazine [. . .]

I gave Jay so much s**t about this. I mean, every time I went to the grocery store, there was Jay gazing calmly at me. I'd roll my eyes back at him. And I know I wasn't the only one. We're all thinking he's on the cover because he's sort of cute, and he's a cardiologist. AND he's in a band (Dogs in the Yard - they're good).

Mea culpa. I'm writing this post because the man saved my dad's life. Not just by being "a helluva cardiologist," as my dad later called him; but for being a good and confident enough doctor that he did not hide behind statistics.

Where Dr. Smaht had painstakingly explained the numbers, the technical points, the statistical probabilities, Jay Reusch sat down like frickin' Hawkeye Pierce and said:

"Art. If you hadn't been in the hospital last night, you'd be dead."

He took my Dad's hand, waited until he had my Dad's full attention and said loudly and calmly:

"I'm sure you have questions. I would too, and I'll do my best to answer them. Yes, there are risks. But the benefits outweigh the risks. I would have the surgery."

He explained them, too. In human terms. My Dad said, "Well, you can't ask for a better second opinion than that. I'll roll the dice."

There are more Jay (and Jane) Reusch's in this world than Dr Smaht's.

More like this

This is a very inspiring story. There are many stories out there like this that really shows how doctors save countless lives everyday. I wish more of them get increased attention.