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Books, Journals, New Media
November 24, 2004

Dying

Author Affiliations
 

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(20):2526. doi:10.1001/jama.292.20.2526-a

Dr Steven Hsi, a family practitioner from New Mexico, died of Takayasu arteritis at the age of 44 years. Closing the Chart is his account of his experiences as a patient and physician, from his initial symptoms to his death 4 years later. As Hsi struggled to find meaning in the midst of a rare and devastating illness, he critiqued our health system for its failure to provide the kind of care he wished for.

The tone is set from the prologue. After a harrowing incident of unchecked bleeding following his open-heart surgery, Hsi noted, “No doctor ever came to my room.” Next, a vignette shows the healing value of a personal experience with his young son, a story that would never appear in a medical chart. “No one asked the questions that needed to be asked,” Hsi wrote, questions about how his illness affected him and his family.

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