Ebola Fundamentally Alters the Doctor-Patient Relationship

MONROVIA — Six months ago I cared for Sharon, a 50-year-old woman who had traveled from California’s central valley to UC San Francisco for specialized care. For months she and her family had noticed an insidious onset of jaundice. Over several months the yellowing spread slowly, but unrelentingly, like mold creeping along the walls of a water-damaged home.

One morning Sharon looked in the mirror and startled herself. She no longer recognized her once vibrant visage. Two weeks later, after a CT scan revealed a plum-sized mass at the head of her pancreas, she came to UCSF for a biopsy and diagnosis. I met her with my team of medical students, interns and residents on a Tuesday morning. An oncologist joined us to break the news that the biopsy showed cancer, and that her prognosis was dire.

By this time Sharon had lost 40 pounds, suffered excruciating abdominal pain, intolerable nausea, and had barely enough energy to stand. We offered the option of palliative care, and worked nonstop to address her symptoms. More importantly, we spent time at her bedside.

Every morning after rounds I would swing back to Sharon’s room and accompany her through a frightening time —> Read More Here


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