No one could have been more surprised than Nir Hoftman, M.D., when he recently opened his email to find a message from a patient he cared for nearly five years ago. At the time, he thought that the patient might never survive her catastrophic illness, let alone recover enough to say thank you.

“I am so grateful to you for helping to save my life,” wrote Linda O. Hatcher, a Los Angeles attorney who practices health care business law. “My survival and recovery have been extraordinary, and it is in no small measure due to you.”

Dr. Hoftman, UCLA’s Chief of Thoracic Anesthesiology, first met Ms. Hatcher on March 21, 2014, in UCLA’s interventional radiology (IR) suite. At that point, the 51-year-old woman needed general anesthesia for a hazardous procedure – inserting an “AngioVac®” device to evacuate...

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