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It’s good not to talk

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 29 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1374
  1. Liam Farrell, retired general practitioner, Crossmaglen, County Armagh
  1. drfarrell{at}

“Mr X doesn’t talk to patients,” she said.

Joe had been having some problems, but was unable to contact his consultant. So I’d rung Mr X’s secretary.

“Pardon?” I said, wondering if I had heard properly. Or was this the ultimate expression of keyhole surgery; doctor and patient shouting through the keyhole at each other?

“Mr X doesn’t talk to patients,” she repeated, like Browning’s wise thrush, which “sings each song twice over, / Lest you think he never …

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