RISE Scholars

Safiya Richardson, MD, MPH
Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine
RISE Cohort 6

When I was a first year medical student my mother was told that she had a brain aneurysm. It was found incidentally, on a CT head done as a precaution for a minor eye infection. She made an appointment with the chair of neurosurgery at my institution and discussed her options. A few weeks later he removed a portion of her skull and clipped the offending defect. She spent months recovering. She still has the scars. As it turns out the risk of spontaneous rupture for an aneurysm the size of hers is essentially zero. The likelihood of death during the procedure is 3%. The risk of stroke during the procedure 10%. I did not know that then. The physician patient relationship is sacred. We have to truly understand the tools we have and more importantly be honest with ourselves and our patients about their gross limitations. First, do no harm. The appropriate use of medical interventions honors our calling, our patients and the respected place we hold in society.