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On Being a Doctor |

Working against the Grain

David P. Steensma, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905.


Requests for Single Reprints: David P. Steensma, MD, Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905; e-mail, Steensma.david@mayo.edu.


Ann Intern Med. 2006;144(9):697-698. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-144-9-200605020-00016
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I paused under the carved lintel that crowned the doorway of his battered clapboard farmhouse. Despite the sanction of the Hippocratic oath (Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick …), I remain uncomfortable when entering my patients' homes, especially when there is little to offer beyond the dubious benefit of my presence. The probing intimacies of routine medical practice don't bother me much anymore, but home visits still seem a deeper invasion of privacy—like sitting abruptly on the corner of an occupied hospital bed, or eavesdropping on an unguarded telephone conversation while reading a chart outside a room.

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