How hard can that be?
They paged me just after midnight. As I took the elevator to that floor I realized that... I had no idea how to pronounce someone dead.
My medical school had covered all kinds of stuff about diagnosis and treatment of the living, and, in retrospect, zilch about how to tell if someone is dead.
My stomach sank as I realized I'd be learning on the fly. I buttoned my brand-new white coat and made sure I had my stethoscope.
I got to the room. Mercifully, the family had gone home for the night and there were just 2 nurses straightening things up.
The ex-patient's eyes were wide open. He stared straight ahead, pining for the fjords.
Trying to look like I knew what I was doing, I strode confidently over to the bed... then stopped as I realized I had no idea where to start.
Finally, I waved my hand in front of his eyes.
He didn't blink.
The nurses began laughing. I began sweating.
Realizing I was hopelessly lost, and blanking, one took pity on me and suggested checking his pulse and perhaps use my stethoscope. At that point I began remembering things like vital signs (or the absence thereof) and other basic proof/disproof of life.
"He's dead, um, what's your name?"
I lay in my call room the rest of the night, waiting for a page from the morgue that the guy had woken up and was wondering what kind of idiot had pronounced him dead.