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A Piece of My Mind
December 10, 2014

Art and the Uncertainty of Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;312(22):2337-2339. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10773

Our patient was a pale, lithe woman in her mid-20s, clearly a dancer. Her left arm projected in a contorted spiral, the muscles taut beneath her semitransparent skin. She held her clawed hand perfectly still. A group of medical students and instructors congregated in an arc around her and began to construct a differential diagnosis, recalling the pathways of nerves, vessels, and muscles, and speculating about her history. Our patient remained frozen, forcing us to use just our eyes to carefully extract clues.