Extracting the history

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 24 June 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1679
  1. George Dunea

    The house doctor at a private hospital was extracting a medical history—slowly, painfully, like pulling teeth—from an irritated bored woman who by the sound of it had been through it all before. “Have you had chest pain or anything like that?” “No.” “Have you ever vomited blood or anything like that?” “No.” So he slugged on, one extraction at a time, then writing it all down in a jumble.

    He could use some help, I thought from behind the curtain that separated his patient's bed from mine. I felt sorry for the now figuratively toothless old lady; also for the house officer—busy, harassed, paged by everybody while trying to come to grips with all these patients, and now firing away …

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