Intended for healthcare professionals


The mysterious and the prosaic

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 05 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:0

Is medicine a mysterious activity? Of course it is, but doctors like to behave as if it isn't. They hustle, bustle, dissect, experiment, collect data, write up, catalogue, make appointments, and imagine that they are progressing towards a world that is entirely sorted. But as they do so they daily invoke the utchat, the eye of the ancient Egyptian god Horus (p 1543).

Jeff Aronson explains that the <Rx> symbol that doctors use when writing a prescription is not a shortened version of the Latin word for recipe but a corruption of the utchat. Horus had …

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