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March 4, 1983

A Medical Student on Call

Author Affiliations

Valhalla, NY

JAMA. 1983;249(9):1128. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330330016007

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It was the first night on call of my medicine rotation and my intern handed me a couple of tubes and told me to draw blood from Mrs Matthews, a patient with advanced glioblastoma multiforme.

Her room was dim, lighted only by a streetlamp outside. I could see her shaved head and obese body, a huge mound under the sheets. Her wrists were tied to the bed at her sides. Snoring loudly, mouth half open, she lay on her back, and I shook her shoulder gently and called out her name, but the snores continued. Nevertheless, I talked to her, mostly because I was nervous on the second day of my new rotation and I felt like talking to someone.

"Hello, Mrs Matthews," I said. "I just want to get some blood from you. This will just take a few minutes and then you can go back to sleep." The