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A Piece of My Mind
November 10, 2015

What Now?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC

Copyright 2015 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2015;314(18):1919-1920. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10138

Although I was just shy of graduating from medical school, I knew the woman was dying. Her glassy brown eyes stared blankly at the crumbling ceiling, and her lips parted slightly as if gasping for oxygen that simply wasn’t there. The young woman’s body was unmoving, as if frozen in time, but her extremities were still moist from the day’s lingering thick and humid air.

I felt for a pulse. There was none. While the other fourth-year medical student started compressions, a nurse placed a bag over the woman’s mouth and began to pump air into her lungs. Instinctively, my eyes scanned the room for a cardiac monitor and a defibrillator, but the deep cracks running like veins down the yellowed concrete walls brought back the reality that this was a remote Ghanaian hospital. Here, I would find no such devices.

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