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May 3, 1965

The Lie-Flat Phenomenon

JAMA. 1965;192(5):424. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080180082037

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To the Editor:—  One need not look to the laboratory or even the bedside for material worthy of clinical investigation. Close observation of a patient in the simple act of mounting the examining table has given rise to a series of provocative observations and interesting research possibilities.It was noted in a consecutive series of 1,000 such mountings that 85% of patients given the instruction "lie on your back," lie on their stomachs and vice versa. In an effort to direct the patient into the supine position, without resorting to such nonanatomical, though commonly understood, instructions as "lie on your duff" or "lie down, belly up," another 1,000 subjects were told to "lie flat." With this simple change in command the statistics were reversed: 85% of patients so instructed obeyed by reclining supine.The word "flat" as defined in the 1965 edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary is "having

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