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Poetry and Medicine
July 11, 2007

If You Didn’t Chart It

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

JAMA. 2007;298(2):146. doi:10.1001/jama.298.2.146

If you didn't chart it,
you didn't do it.
Straightforward advice
to the risk averse,
duly noted.
So I write things like this:
Preventive screening scheduled
Return if symptoms persist
Referred for specialty consult
Counseled regarding side effects
Risks of procedure explained
Informed consent obtained.
But that time you came in
with symptoms that scared you
half out of your skin and I listened hard
but hadn't a clue, so stayed up
all night combing through journals
calling up colleagues,
finally confided what I’d do
if I were you, that I’d see you through
whatever it took, gave you my number,
came in after hours
and you made it, thank god?
That never happened.

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