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On Being a Doctor |

Dr. Wohl's Violin: A Family Doctor's Last Act of Kindness

Sheldon H. Gottlieb, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD 21224.


Requests for Single Reprints: Sheldon H. Gottlieb, MD, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224; e-mail, sgottli@jhmi.edu.


Ann Intern Med. 2007;146(10):755-756. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-146-10-200705150-00013
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It began as a typical afternoon in the coronary care unit. While trying to finish my charting so that I could get home for dinner with my family, I was paged to the CCU resident's office. In the cluttered office, I found a medical resident nervously pacing the floor. When I walked in, he brightened up and immediately launched into his presentation: “Dr. Gottlieb, we have a tough case. This is a 25-year-old white male with terminal acute myeloid leukemia who was on home hospice. But when he finally arrested, his father panicked and called 911. Now the kid's on a vent, and his father is at his bedside around the clock. The kid's totally brain-dead—I mean really brain-dead, a vegetable—but when we try to talk to his father about turning off the vent, he looks like he'll explode and he starts yelling ‘Don't you talk to me about turning off the respirator! Billy is my only child! Can't you see he's still alive?’ The parents are divorced, and they don't talk to each other; the father is calling the shots. We were hoping that you could talk to the father—help him to understand that the kindest thing that he could do for his son at this point would be to turn off the respirator and allow him to pass on.”

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Comments

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No Title
Posted on May 14, 2007
joanne g. crantz
george washington u
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Dear Dr Gottlieb, Thank you for a wonderful story. Joanne Crantz, MD

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

No Title
Posted on May 17, 2007
Mary Ann Banerji
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Dear Dr Gottlieb, Such deeply personal experiences are the soul of medicine and its essential humananitarianism. Thank you for a very moving story - it reminds us of why we became doctors in the first place.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

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