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A Piece of My Mind |

Syntax of Survival

Julie Dunlop1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Albuquerque, New Mexico
JAMA. 2013;310(10):1027-1028. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.227192.
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Extract

The words of physicians are often perceived as sacrosanct and can immediately stitch themselves into the patient’s psyche. But “He said not to worry” or “She said it could be a tumor”: the spectrum swings wildly, offering hope and doom, spreading more quickly than the flu, no incubation time necessary. The rushed physician—does he even remember what it was that he said?

Perhaps there is no more important suture than the one threaded with words connecting physician to patient, and patient to the medicine or poison of faith or doubt—each, when misapplied, equally dangerous. So yes, while we love the surgeon who emphatically reassures us that she has done hundreds of these operations and that a lack of pulse in the arm is of no concern, what happens when the patient lies awake in the middle of the night with a growing sense of unease, weighing how the body feels against the certainty of the physician’s proclamations?

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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