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January 18, 1980

The Healer's Hand

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

JAMA. 1980;243(3):230. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300290014007

To the Editor.—  Res ipsa loquitur! The COMMENTARY by M. Julian Duttera, Jr, MD (242:41, 1979), dealt with one of the most fundamental yet so often forgotten aspects of medicine, "The Healer's Hand."I once wrote, "there is often nothing to say to the dying patient, but that the mere presence of the doctor coupled with the tactile transmission of human compassion and support are sufficient."1 I would certainly agree that such tactile transmission can and should be utilized in many patients in addition to the dying ones. There is another related aspect to the topic Dr Duttera dealt with, and it has to do with how physicians handle hospital visits. I believe the majority of physicians making rounds enter the room and stand at the foot or side of the bed and ask the patient how he is doing; the patient often initially returns the stereotyped "fine," and