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On Being a Doctor |

Elegy

Emma Samelson-Jones, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Columbia University, New York, NY 10025.


Requests for Single Reprints: Emma Samelson-Jones, MD, 201 West 108th Street, Apt 55, New York, NY 10025.


Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(6):398-399. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-152-6-201003160-00012
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I first met Ms. Bryan on a Thursday at 1 a.m. Three months later, I would look up her autopsy report on the computer. I would scroll down the screen searching for an explanation for her death as memories replayed themselves: her lying in the intensive care unit after her brain biopsy, unresponsive, the guilt flooding my cheeks as I thought of our conversation the previous day. She: “I'm afraid.” Me: “Routine procedure.” I would remember leading a group of 25 white-coated physicians into her room and the 3 hours she spent with a spinal needle in her back, asking me about my boyfriend as I watched the clear fluid pool into droplets that wobbled and then fell into sterile test tubes. Before these memories could be remembered, however, they had to be made. I had to knock on her door for the first time.

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Was the patient a smoker?
Posted on May 13, 2010
Robert H. Kelly
No Affiliation
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

To the Editor:

In Dr. Samelson-Jones' On Being a Doctor, "Elegy," she reported the small vessel disease changes on the MRI in a patient with subtle dysphasia. Not mentioned, but perhaps important, was whether the patient was a smoker. The desire for a beer and the regret over a missed NASCAR race, as well as the statement that she did not have "much control over her life" brings to my mind the question of whether she used tobacco. I wonder if that question could be answered?

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

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