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Medical Writings |

Putting Ethics into the Medical Record

Alfred I. Tauber, MD
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From the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts

Requests for Single Reprints: Alfred I. Tauber, MD, Boston University School of Medicine and Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215; e-mail, ait@bu.edu.

Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(7):559-563. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-136-7-200204020-00024
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The medical record is a sensitive indicator of how care is administered, reflecting not only the structure of clinical thinking but also the values embedded in medical practice. Ostensibly, the medical record identifies all the existing clinical issues, assesses each individually, and then integrates these issues to ensure that the patient receives thorough care. But the aspiration toward integrated, comprehensive health care remains, and the medical chart continues to be piecemeal and, more telling perhaps, incomplete—clearly revealing lingering frustrations facing patients and their health care providers. Physicians are in the midst of a self-conscious reappraisal of how care can be administered more effectively and, at the same time, with more empathy (12). From this perspective, I offer my proposal.

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