"My patient wanted me, his internist, to tell him whether getting an I.C.D. was worthwhile. I remember the feeling distinctly: a dense cloud of agita settling over me, a needling sensation of entering a gray zone of medical decision-making. This was not a straightforward situation — we’d have to weigh the risks and benefits, and we’d have to probe carefully into what he valued in life. Was he a risk taker, who would gamely try any medical intervention that might offer benefit? Or was he risk-averse, believing it better not to fix what ain’t broke?"
To complicate matters, her "patient didn’t fit perfectly into the “high-risk” category, and he was from an ethnic minority that wasn’t well represented in the I.C.D. trials."
As Dr. Offri sees it, "Tolerating ambiguity and uncertainty is a profoundly frustrating experience for most people, but especially for doctors, [who] are asked to make serious and profound decisions, ones that may gravely affect the life of a human being."
Next: What happened?