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Ben C. Gile, M.D.
JAMA. 1917;LXVIII(25):1906-1907. doi:10.1001/jama.1917.04270060314018.
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It sounds like a paradox to say that we need to be reminded of familiar truths, but this is a fact. Every physician knows that a correct diagnosis is invaluable and that we should earnestly strive to discover and remove the cause of the diseases we encounter, and yet quite frequently we learn of cases in which the treatment has been exclusively symptomatic and etiologic investigation has been entirely neglected. Of course, we are often required to treat symptoms: it may be our first duty to check a hemorrhage or relieve a severe pain, irrespective of causation; when we have time for investigation, however, especially in chronic cases, purely symptomatic treatment is justified only by conditions in which: (1) the cause cannot be discovered; (2) the cause is a self-limiting process, as in many of the disorders occurring during pregnancy, or (3) the cause, though known, is beyond remedy and


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