Nautilus

An Rx for Doctors

Every physician remembers their first bad case. Mine went like this.

One morning, a man came into our emergency department with back pain. He had recently undergone repair of an aortic aneurysm, a kind of ballooning of the vessel at a weakness in its wall, and we were concerned about a problem with the repair. But all tests—including a CT scan of the suspect vessel—were normal. We could find nothing wrong, and his pain improved with analgesics. We sent him home.

The man had been riding Harleys for years and never gone down, until his heart stopped as he was leaving the hospital garage. A security officer saw him pitch off his bike. When they got to him he had no pulse. I recognized his beard and motorcycle leathers through the throng of activity in the trauma bay—it was the man with

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