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January 8, 1992

The Nature of Suffering

Author Affiliations

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock

JAMA. 1992;267(2):300-301. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480020110047

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The practice of medicine in the last decade of the 20th century would be unrecognizable to our colleagues of 30 years ago. As we look back, it is frequently very difficult to understand how we have arrived here. When we turn and look into the future, the picture becomes even more confused. We stand at the pinnacle of scientific achievement. Our understanding of disease extends down to the molecular level. Despite this, we are looked upon with fear and distrust by our patients and by insurers, lawyers, and the federal government.

We are continually badgered by quality assurance groups who wish to have every action documented, every i dotted, and every t crossed. These efforts to ensure the provision of quality health care result in quality paperwork that has no relationship to health care. Why has a profession devoted to human care fallen on such hard times?

Dr Eric Cassell