Michael GuntherMaher, MD
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GuntherMaher M.; Prognostic Disclosure. Ann Intern Med. 2002;137:368. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-137-5_Part_1-200209030-00020
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2002;137(5_Part_1):368.
TO THE EDITOR:
The poignancy of the article by Lamont and Christakis (1) is that it reaches to the boundaries of where science can take us. Physicians sometimes prefer to misrepresent the truth, and no prognostic algorithm will be able to tell us why. I believe the problem cannot be approached without coming to terms with the dissociative process physicians undergo in their selection and training as scientists. We are taught neither to nurture our humanity nor to call on it as a recourse for approaching our patients. We are encouraged to rely on scientific methods, statistical verification, and “evidence-based” approaches to care. I grant that we owe the great advances in medicine to the scientific method, but eventually there will be artificial intelligence sophisticated enough to diagnose, treat, and prognosticate without the worries of waning knowledge or human error. What will it mean to be a physician then, if not to be human? And if it means to be human, what does that mean, if not to be empathetic, integrated, and, among other things, faithful? These are lights that guide us when knowledge fails.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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