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October 17, 1966

Of Time and Acuity

Author Affiliations

Bloomington, Hawaii

JAMA. 1966;198(3):329. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110160157057

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To the Editor:—  When an illness is of long duration it is chronic, but when coming to an early crisis it is described as acute.The impact of medical writing on the scribes of Webster's Third "International" has provided some chronic complaint, which promises to be of long duration. This dictionary has legitimized the chronic sufferer as the chronic patient, the patient of long duration, at the same time creating the acute patient, doomed to an early crisis, yet who is neither sharp nor standing at an angle of less than 90°.

Doctor:  Well, Jones, how are you today?

Jones:  Chronic.

Doctor:  Nonsense. You have chronic arthritis. Your arthritis is chronic. Not you.

Jones:  Wrong, doctor. According to Webster's Third I'm a chronic sufferer, a chronic patient. Accordingly, I'm chronic.

Doctor:  Pretty sharp today, eh Jones?

Jones:  Right. I'm acute and chronic.This can go on forever, and a Fourth