Michael A. LaCombe, MD
LaCombe M.; Seeking Forgiveness. Ann Intern Med. 1999;130:444-445. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-130-5-199903020-00018
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1999;130(5):444-445.
If there is a common theme running through the submissions to the On Being a Doctor section of Annals of Internal Medicine, it is the story of the physician suddenly confronted by his own humanity. In form, this most commonly centers upon a dying patient, the physician overwhelmed by emotion, all at once aware of the depth of his or her caring. Much of the poetry submitted to the Ad Libitum section takes this form as well, such that together, we, the editorial staff, have come to refer to these submissions collectively as the “death-and-dying” pieces.
Far less common, but still submitted often enough to deserve their own niche, are the pieces we have termed the “seeking-absolution” stories, to which belongs the excellent essay by Dr. Costigan in this issue (1). These pieces, all having the sharp sense of nonfiction, center on the bad result. A diagnosis is presumably missed. A patient, through a presumed lapse, does poorly. The patient dies despite all measures. The physician-author, usually young and new to the profession, feels deeply responsible. And profoundly guilty. And unforgiven.
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Emergency Medicine, Infectious Disease, Pulmonary/Critical Care, Prevention/Screening.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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