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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 7, 2003


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(17):2292. doi:10.1001/jama.289.17.2292-a

In one of his recent fables, George Ade quotes an old physician, who advises a young man not to take up the profession of medicine. Among other evidences of the unprofitableness of the study, the physician remarks that "we are most of us held down so close to the carpet that we have to buy last year's magazines to put in the waiting room." Mr Ade is certainly an observer and has probably frequented physicians' waiting rooms not a little to make such a generalization as this. There are many of these rooms where the literature left to pass the patient's time is not only antiquated, but often suggestive of contagion, in view of the handling, etc., by the patients who pass in and out. We have often been a little timid about too close handling of some venerable documents on the waiting room tables of dermatologic specialists, and have sometimes thought it might be better to have none at all for the peace of mind of apprehensive individuals. It is a good thing to have magazines, current illustrated periodicals, etc., on the waiting room table, for the patients would be more likely to patiently await their turn, but there should be either a certificate of disinfection attached to each periodical or the date of publication should show that the matter is moderately new, not lapping too far over in the past century.