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Perceptions of doctors and what they do

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 06 October 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:0

Mostly patients trust doctors. They also trust the tests that doctors undertake, imagining that they will give clear answers. Patients are thus likely to be shocked when they are told that a test that said they did not have cancer was wrong. R P Symonds describes such an episode from the doctor's point of view.

The pathologists in Leicester decided to audit the cervical smear history of 403 women who developed cervical cancer. They discovered that 20% had never had a smear—raising, in passing, questions about equity and screening (p 815)—and that 84 had been …

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