Brains With Lime

This is not a post about zombies with strange dietary habits.

For those of you who have in email or in person asked after her, Lime is fine. She’s in the neurology department, which is the hardest one so far, it seems, and she’s been working long, long hours there. Yesterday we had dinner together on her first evening off since starting there—she picked up some Japanese on the way over—and when I asked how her day had gone, she said, “I saw brains today. Oooh, listen,” and whipped out her phone to play back a sound file she’d recorded for me.

She was surprised when I could identify the sound of a bone saw. (Which, as I told her, is familiar from movies and medical documentaries.) The saw was cutting a patch of skull open for surgery. I think I started shuddering at that point.

Then I told her the comment a friend made recently—”Wouldn’t it suck to get into an accident, bang your head on the concrete, and then have to go to Jeonbuk University Hospital?”—she thought about it for a moment and agreed, it’d be better to get hurt that way in Seoul.

As for the long hours, here’s a maddening fact: studies have actually shown that if residents in a hospital work extremely long hours, and are fatigued, the mortality rate in a hospital is higher. If residents get proper sleep, the mortality rate goes down. But if you point that out to most Korean resident doctors or professors, they’ll accuse you of having a weak mind, or being lazy, I’m told. If only the public knew. Ah well, one more thing that needs reform.

(For the record, I suspect from things I’ve read that Western hospitals need to reform this too, since their residents aren’t doing so much better in terms of sleep. The claim is that residents need a lot of experience before they’re ready to practice as professional doctors; however, does this experience need to be bought at the price of the lives of a percentage of the patients at a hospital? It makes me think one should avoid teaching/University hospitals.)

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