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Who Speaks for the Patient?

Charles D. Aring, MD
JAMA. 1966;195(13):1133-1134. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100130107028.
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The tendency to substitute the laboratory for the classical method of diagnosis is the despair of humanistic teachers. The trend to the laboratory as an alternative to "learning" the patient is seen in the novice, the harassed, the disorganized, and the lazy. The laboratory has become widely known as a tool of science and those who do not consider the matter too deeply are in danger of becoming enamored of it as a routine in the care of sick people. Since the laboratory is synonymous with research, and research has become the order of the day, inductive clinical analysis may be deprecated as a subjective method and, therefore, of lesser order.

The largesse that has become available to academic medicine in the United States since the last world war does nothing to improve the situation. To derive these funds requires that research be processed with the result that some perfectly


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