It was 11:30 p.m. on a rainy Friday night. I had just given in to my scheduler’s pleas and agreed to cover a night shift in Pediatrics. The secretary looked up from her computer as I approached the nursing station. Then:
“You’re late,” sneered the charge nurse. Before I could answer, she shoved a packet of papers in my face.
My load was heavy. I had four patients all to myself, total care. One of them was a three-day-old, full-term infant male, born with gastroschisis and only one minimally functioning kidney, left to die in a room. I was only to provide supportive care: keep him comfortable until he passed. There was no family involved. The other three patients were fresh post-ops from earlier that day, all in the same room.