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May 6, 1988

Life Is Short, the Art Long, Opportunity Fleeting, Experience Treacherous, Judgment Difficult-Reply

Author Affiliations

Class of 1989 Stanford (Calif) University

Class of 1989 Stanford (Calif) University

JAMA. 1988;259(17):2543. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720170018015

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In Reply.  — Dr Conner makes some fine points in his letter but he is wrong to imply that I did not receive a comprehensive physical examination. Indeed, many physicians gave me thorough abdominal and rectal examinations; at no time did I have signs of acute appendicitis. Overall, the care I received was superb. Hence the dilemma: Why did the best medical minds and technology miss a relatively simple ruptured appendix?Immediately after my hospitalization, I was disillusioned with medicine. I learned—the hard way—that no diagnosis is uniformly simple. But hindsight is always 20/20, and it is easy in retrospect to say that the diagnosis should have been obvious. It is not difficult to explain why a given team won the Superbowl after the game is over.Medicine is an art and a science. Its proper execution depends on the interaction of the physician and technology. Physicians are not magicians,