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September 14, 1984

Explanations to the Patient-Reply

JAMA. 1984;252(10):1279. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350100013009

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In Reply.—  When a physician enters the examining room, he must spend a certain amount of time there regardless of whether he even opens his mouth. While he is examining the patient, running a test, glancing at a chart, writing a prescription, or washing his hands, he has an opportunity to share his knowledge and insights with the patient. If he chooses to give in this intangible way, it takes up no extra time. And if his three or four steps to the door are laced with a moment's hesitation, that hardly affects the patient who is waiting for him in the next room.I've never wanted extra time. I've only hoped for kind explanations in the time that was mine. I have always stuck to the most basic, important questions, and on several occasions I have not asked other questions that I really wanted to know, out of respect