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On Being a Doctor |

Exposing Physicians

Kathryn M. Denson, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53295.


Requests for Single Reprints: Kathryn M. Denson, MD, Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 5000 West National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53214; e-mail, kdenson@mcw.edu.


Ann Intern Med. 2009;150(3):218. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-150-3-200902030-00013
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The edge of the toupee caught my eye as I tipped the patient's head gently forward. I was surprised. The hairpiece looked so real. The edge was rough and upturned slightly, gray in color. I don't think that I would have noticed it if the front edge hadn't been slightly ragged. I was starting to look at the scalp during my physical examination. I ignored the toupee—pretended I didn't see it. I could hear my residency attending's voice in my mind, “Always be thorough, and don't forget to look under the dentures.” I supposed this would extend to the scalp as well. Pushing the thought out of my mind, I moved on to the rest of the skin exam, focusing on the skin of his face. I didn't want to expose or embarrass the patient—at least not make him feel more exposed than I expected he would feel by the end of the appointment.

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