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Health Care Reform
Sep 26, 2011

Just Listen

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Family Medicine, T. J. Samson Hospital, Glasgow, Kentucky.

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(17):1526. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.435

If you will just listen to patients, they will tell you what's wrong with them. And if you will listen a little longer, they will tell you what to do about it.—Tom Brower, MD

In retrospect, it might seem improbable that one of the most memorable and lasting lessons learned in medical school by this primary care physician was spoken by an orthopedic surgeon. Yet, his imparted wisdom has followed me into virtually every patient encounter since then.

A.W. is a 60-year-old man with a multiplicity of problems including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and chronic, disabling back pain. After numerous, unsuccessful back surgical procedures attempting to relieve intractable pain, A.W. had been rescued from the brink of suicide by implantation of a continuous infusion morphine pump placed into his low back. Since its implantation several years ago he had regained significant quality to his life.

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