Dr. Clara Hom was a junior clinical faculty member who shared a 2-bedroom apartment with her older brother, in a suburb just outside of Denver, Colorado.
During the day, Dr. Hom worked in the cardiology unit, but some evenings she would do night shifts in the Intensive Care Unit.
She really hated moonlighting, but took on the extra shifts to help pay off her 220,000 dollars in student loans.
“Another Saturday, another shift.
Two more of these and then I can have a full weekend off - a golden weekend.”
Dr. Hom thought aloud as she was leaving her home.
An hour later, Dr. Hom arrived at the Intensive Care Unit.
The woman who did the day shift was eager to head out and whipped through the sign out.
She said, “On the right side, beds 1-4 we’re just monitoring for postoperative complications, 5 and 6 are patients with cardiac problems.
On the left side, we have two patients, 22-years old Sarah Arroyo, and 26-year old Isaac Berg.”
Arroyo has been having recurrent bleeding post-tonsillectomy, and Berg has ARDS from who knows what, and is now he’s on mechanical ventilation - the plan is to keep him steady on his settings overnight.”
And like that, the sign-out was completed and Dr. Hom was left alone to settle in for the night.
The night slipped by quietly, no big issues.
Dr. Hom felt relieved - she liked the money, but being in the ICU scared her and the feeling had never really gone away over the years.
It was about 6:02am Dr. Hom was called by Sarah Arroyo’s nurse because she had been spitting up some blood.
Dr. Hom checked her tonsil beds, and she saw bright red streaks running down the back of Sarah’s throat.
She tried to remain composed, but her stomach began to turn.
“Nurse, bring me a kidney dish.”
Dr. Hom advised Sarah to spit the blood out in the kidney dish, rather than swallowing it.
Sarah nodded and looked calm, it was her third time experiencing bleeding, and she knew the drill.