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March 2015

The Pain and the Pus

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(3):339-340. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7124

“The ear has pain, very pain. And pus, lots of pus,” the patient’s daughter said with a grimace, as if she were tasting the cloudy, bacteria-laden fluid while she described it. She recounted, as best as she could, the recent plight of her mother, who was seated on the examination table next to us. Her accent revealed that she was an African immigrant. I remember her face, her broad smile, the gap between her 2 front teeth, and her colorful scarf—a mix of reds, yellows, and vivid purples.

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