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October 3, 1966

Scared to Death

Author Affiliations

Miami, Fla

JAMA. 1966;198(1):90. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110140140048

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To the Editor:—  The recent commentary in The Journal on premonitions of death (197:516, 1966) brings to mind a similar episode, in which several of my colleagues have laughingly accused me of scaring a patient to death.Dr. Goodwin's comment that Dr. John M. T. Finney said "If a patient says, 'Doctor, if you operate on me, I am going to die'... don't operate on him" should be heeded very carefully, but I can go one step further. If the doctor feels he should not operate because of a patient's appearance, then let him postpone the operation. I was all set for a Caldwell-Luc procedure at the Veterans Hospital in Hines, Ill, when they wheeled the patient in. He was white as a sheet, with big globs of perspiration all over his face. He even said he was scared, but we knew that all he needed was reassurance. I