Fillers Endpiece

The name of the illness

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7549.1070 (Published 04 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1070
  1. Helen Mary Worthington, clinical fellow
  1. Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Sale, Cheshire

    Language is as vital to the physician's art as the stethoscope or the scalpel. A doctor begins by examining the words of his patient to determine their clinical significance. He then translates the words into medical language, describing how the condition came to be, what it means, and how it may evolve. Of all the words the doctor uses, the name he gives the illness has the greatest weight. It forms the foundation of all subsequent discussion, not only between doctor and patient but also between doctor and doctor and between patient and patient.

    Groopman J. Hurting all over. New Yorker 2000;13 Nov: 78.

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