An American doctor on the frontlines (in the trenches) of the Italian Medical System.
Sunday afternoon, after having seen a few strokes and panic attacks, I get a call from 118 Emergency Services (equivalent to 911 in the US). They tell me that someone has just died and ask if I can go certify the death quickly since the Ambulance is waiting. When there are emergency calls in Italy, depending on staff availability an ambulance goes out with a nurse and sometimes a doctor. If there isn't a doctor on board and if patients die then they call me to certify the death since I'm the jolly joker in the Italian Health System. This afternoon when the Emergency Services called I was just seeing a patient in my clinic. I finished my examination and went to certify this death. As I was arriving to the house I saw the ambulance driving by very quickly and the driver waved at me pointing away. I thought he meant that they had to leave since there was another more pressing emergency in the vicinity. When I got to the house the family was there and they were crying and sobbing. Losing a family member is always emotional. I asked where the corpse was and they said he isn't here! He's already been taken. Maybe it was growing up in a religious environment but the first thought that popped into my head was: Ohh Shit! This guy has been raptured! After my head cleared from this a bit I proceeded to ask a few more questions. Where has he been taken? You can imagine my relief when they said, to the hospital of course! Then everything started to click and I realized that the driver had been pointing away to try to tell me to go back to the clinic since they were taking the man to the hospital and that his family wasn't crying out of grief but out of relief. I made my way back to the clinic.
Another death, another dollar. A day in the life on the front-lines of Italian Medicine.