Jeremy Laurance: A case that should make doctors think again
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Monday 15 October 2012
In 30 years of medical reporting I have not come across a case like Tasleem Rafiq's. You hear of people recovering from a coma against medical expectations, or buried for hours in ice and snow where the cold preserves life.
But to come back from the dead, unharmed and with no sign of physical or brain injury, after all attempts at resuscitation in a major UK hospital have failed, is unprecedented.
What if Mrs Rafiq's family had not been present? Would she have been carted off to the morgue – and then the cemetery? David Mossop, senior emergency care consultant at the Royal Berkshire, said that would not have happened. "She would have been reassessed," he said.
But Tony Calland, chair of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee, said it was not unheard of for a pathologist to start a post mortem "and then the patient swallows".
He added: "You are always going to get bizarre cases. You can't make policy on the basis of extreme exceptions. Death is like appendicitis – it is one of the easiest and most difficult conditions to diagnose. Medicine is an inexact science."
Maybe Mrs Rafiq had a heart beat all along but it was so faint as to be undetectable. Or maybe the protocol on determining death has to be rethought.
Whatever the explanation, the outcome was a relieved patient and a family that was overjoyed.
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...
£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...
£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...