Workspace for the Guild

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Required Reading

After Life - New York Times: "I had been asked before I left the hospital if I would authorize an autopsy. I had said yes. I later read that asking a survivor to authorize an autopsy is seen in hospitals as delicate, sensitive, often the most difficult of the routine steps that follow a death. Doctors themselves, according to many studies (for example, Katz, J., and Gardner, R., 'The Intern's Dilemma: The Request for Autopsy Consent,' Psychiatry in Medicine 3:197203, 1972), experience considerable anxiety about making the request. They know that autopsy is essential to the learning and teaching of medicine, but they also know that the procedure touches a primitive dread. If whoever it was at New York Hospital who asked me to authorize an autopsy experienced such anxiety, I could have spared him or her: I actively wanted an autopsy. I actively wanted an autopsy even though I had seen some, in the course of doing research. I knew exactly what occurred, the chest open like a chicken in a butcher's case, the face peeled down, the scale on which the organs are weighed. I had seen homicide detectives avert their eyes from an autopsy in progress. I still wanted one. I needed to know how and why and when it had happened. In fact I wanted to be in the room when they did it (I had watched those other autopsies with John, I owed him his own, it was fixed in my mind at that moment that he would be in the room if I were on the table), but I did not trust myself to rationally present the point so I did not ask."


Post a Comment

<< Home