The need to knowBMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7215.1001 (Published 09 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1001
- Robert W Stout, professor of geriatric medicine
In 1965 I started my preregistration year in the medical wards of a teaching hospital. Beds in the ward to which I was appointed were also available to the haematologists to admit patients who needed inpatient treatment. The house physician performed the usual duties for these patients, many of whom were admitted on a regular basis for chemotherapy or blood transfusion.
One such patient was a large muscular man from the docklands, physically and mentally strong. His temper was legendary, and he was estranged from his family and friends. He suffered from leukaemia and required a blood transfusion every few weeks. As was the pattern at that time, he was not told the diagnosis and clearly had no inkling about what was wrong …