Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Ward No 6

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 03 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:49
  1. Paul Crichton, consultant psychiatrist, London
  1. paulcrichton{at}

    The hero, or rather antihero, of Anton Chekhov’s short story “Ward No 6” is Dr Andrey Yefimitch Ragin. He is put in charge of a provincial hospital where the stench and overcrowding would make even the most squalid NHS hospital seem a haven of salubrity. He begins work with zeal and vigour but gradually becomes worn down by the “monotony and obvious uselessness” of the work.

    His life changes when he admits Ivan Dmitritch Gromov, an intelligent young man with paranoid delusions, to the almost forgotten ward 6, which is housed in a small lodge in the hospital yard. It consists …

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