Early lessonsBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7473.1028 (Published 28 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1028
- David Crosby, retired surgeon
- University Hospital of Wales
When politicians wish to avoid answering a difficult question, the fact that the precise situation has not yet actually arisen is grasped as a legitimate excuse for avoiding a response. In clinical practice, however, this is often the very question that one should be prepared to answer.
I was taught this by my first surgical teacher in the late 1950s. Before then, it had seemed that my job as a junior surgical trainee was simply to make arrangements for my chief's decisions to be carried out. But my surgical teacher was different. He actually asked me what I thought should be done for almost every patient on the ward round. If …