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On Being a Doctor |

The Healing Touch

Lucie Opatrny, MD, FRCP(C)
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Royal Victoria Hospital–McGill University Health Center; Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A1, Canada.


Requests for Single Reprints: Lucie Opatrny, MD, FRCP(C), Royal Victoria Hospital, 687 Pine Avenue West, Room M10.02, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A1, Canada.


Ann Intern Med. 2002;137(12):1003. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-137-12-200212170-00016
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Mr. B. was lying on the hard, flat ER cot when I pulled back the curtain surrounding his bed. It was 5:00 a.m., and he was sleeping quietly. Given the hour, I felt a twinge of guilt at waking him up for questioning and examination, so I stared at him for a few seconds. His face was gaunt and his full head of hair a stark white. I glanced down at the triage report sheet—he was an 86-year-old male coming in with fatigue. I noticed that his legs were hanging over the edge of the cot and realized that he must be well over 6 feet tall.

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