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On Being a Patient |

An Entirely Benign Disorder

Sebastian Fetscher, MD
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Freiburg University Medical Center; Freiburg D-791046, Germany (Fetscher)

Requests for Reprints: Sebastian Fetscher, MD, Department of Hematology and Oncology, Freiburg University Medical Center, Hugsteiter Strasse 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany; e-mail, fetscher@mm11.ukl.uni-freiburg.de. For reprint orders in quantities exceeding 100, please contact the Reprints Coordinator; phone, 215-351-2657; e-mail, reprints@mail.acponline.org.

Ann Intern Med. 1999;131(10):786-788. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-131-10-199911160-00014
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It all started when I was a child. I had a bad cold, and our family physician, a rather uncouth middle-aged matron, auscultated my heart. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “oh-oh, we are having a heart murmur. We should have a cardiac catheterization done. You know, my brother, the cardiologist, does them all the time. However, when I think of it, the last patient he did died of the procedure, so I think we had better forget about the catheterization and treat your infection.” For reasons known only to her, the well-meaning physician never mentioned the issue again. But she did manage to instill in me, early on, an ill-defined fear of heart catheters, heart murmurs, and heart doctors.





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