* * Anonymous Doc

Friday, August 21, 2009

Big news. I am now authorized to sign death certificates. That should make me an even more popular party guest.

It was all part of an exciting day, processing the death of a woman with no family, and no visitors except for a strange male friend she didn't seem to recognize who was very interested in getting the keys to her house.

When I got to the Office of Decedent Affairs (how's that for making Death Department sound as civilized as possible?), the death certificate had already been filled out by the clerk. "Pneumonia," he'd written. "It might not have been pneumonia," I said. "She probably had a cardiopulmonary arrest." "Let's just leave it as pneumonia," the clerk said. "I don't want to have to start a new one."

And then I checked the box officially transferring the patient from the CCU to "Deceased" and added a three-paragraph note to the file that no one will ever read. I placed my thumb on the pad-- death certificates are signed by fingerprint, to avoid possible fraud-- and clicked the button, and she was officially dead.

The nurse packed her rectum with cotton to avoid leakage, clamped off the catheter, and sent her to the morgue. At some point, if no family comes forward, she will be marked unclaimed and placed in a common grave.

At least they found her teeth. Her entire stay at the hospital, she didn't have her dentures, and no one knew where they were. I don't know who found them, and how they got in her mouth, but there they were. Finally. Now she could eat. I mean, if she were alive.

I told the attending that the patient had died. "That's good," he said. "She needed to die."

No comments:

Post a Comment