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Pectoriloquy |

Code Blues FREE TO VIEW

Martin Beed, BMBS, DM; Peter G. Brindley, MD
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Editor’s Note: The author writes, “Peter and I had just finished some research into the media’s perception of DNACPR orders, when I had a depressing run of admissions of ‘successfully’ resuscitated patients with severe hypoxic brain injury. At the time I couldn’t get words of W.H. Auden’s poem out of my head, especially the words “Stop all the clocks” - the phrase seemed disturbingly apt. From our work together, I knew Peter would understand and help me write the poem.” Peter Brindley MD, FRCPC, FRCP-Edin is a Critical Care Physician at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is a Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Anaesthesiology and Medical Ethics. Martin Beed is a consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia at Nottingham University Hospitals, Nottingham, UK; as well as an Honorary Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham.

Editor’s note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should be related to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submissions to the Pectoriloquy Section should be submitted via e-mail to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST Manuscript Central.

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;148(4):1121. doi:10.1378/chest.15-0989
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Adapted from “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden
(As popularized by the Movie: Four Weddings and a Funeral)
Stop all the clocks, reverse the DNR,
Prevent the patient dying, keep them as they are,
Silence no alarms, set the code to blue,
Put away the coffin, transfer to ICU.
Let the doctors circle, shouting orders ‘round the bed,
Scribble on their charts the message He is Not Dead.
Put tubes straight through the white neck of the one they love,
Let everyone who touches wear a latex glove.
He is not dead, and yet his eyes are not alive,
He breathes, he feeds, he bleeds, but can no longer thrive.
At noon, at midnight, no change, no fight;
I thought that he could last forever: I am right.
CPR’s not wanted now: agreed by everyone,
Pack up the ventilator, for its work is done.
Pour out platitudes: “we did all we could”
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
(With respect to our patients, colleagues, and W. H. Auden)


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