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Don’t dismiss the little notes that patients bring

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h20 (Published 26 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h20
  1. Sanjiv Grover, senior dermatology consultant, E-1068, Saraswati Vihar, Pitampura, Delhi, India
  1. sanjivgrover{at}rediffmail.com

Consider the value in “la maladie du petit papier”—that is, the exhaustive list of purported ailments some patients attend clinics with, writes Sanjiv Grover

It is not unusual for patients to present to the doctor’s clinic armed with a note listing their symptoms and queries. They proceed to give a detailed narrative of their symptoms one by one, demanding analysis and treatment for all of them. This condition has been termed “la maladie du petit papier,” loosely translated as “disease of the small piece of paper,”1 or as “an exhaustive list of purported ailments carried around by a neurotic patient, often accompanied by extensive documentation of each bowel movement or sip of water.”2

Although it was first reported in literature almost half a century ago, references are sparse.3 The origins of the phrase are obscure, …

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