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December 20, 1985

View From the Bridge

Author Affiliations

Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1985;254(23):3314. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360230044021

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A major aspect of medical education during the clinical years is learning how not to behave.

Late one busy Saturday night during my rotation in the emergency room of a general hospital in San Francisco, while I was an intern, a young woman was brought in who had severed a radial artery in a suicide attempt. A tourniquet was applied, an intravenous line was started, and she was given fluids and, as soon as possible, blood transfusions. Once she was stabilized, the surgery resident and I began to repair the severed artery. The despondency and hopelessness expressed in the young woman's eyes seemed to reach out to me. She periodically moaned and cried; she talked about how life was not worth living. I gathered that she had just been rejected by a loved one and this had led to the attempt to end her life. The resident simply said, "Next