Should relatives watch resuscitation? A haunting experience in Nepal

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6955.670 (Published 10 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:670
  1. S Britten
  1. Royal United Hospital, Bath BA1 3NG
  2. Clitheroe Health Centre, Clitheroe North Yorkshire Health Authority, York YO3 4XF
  3. St James's University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF.

    EDITOR, - I wish to contribute my experience to the debate concerning whether relatives should be allowed to witness resuscitation.1,2 While I was a medical student doing my elective in Nepal a large earthquake occurred there. In the first 24 hours afterwards the hospital, staffed by three doctors and three medical students, was overwhelmed by 500 casualties. On the same day a 35 year old woman attempted suicide by ingesting organophosphorus weedkiller. Her husband had left her for her younger sister, and she was thus homeless with four children. Debate ensued: in view of the hospital being overrun by earthquake victims should she be treated? The potential consequences of her death to her children, however, led to her being admitted to a makeshift intensive care unit. Her children slept on a bench on the veranda outside.

    In the …

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