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Poetry and Medicine
September 10, 2019


Author Affiliations
  • 1Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
JAMA. 2019;322(10):984. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5696

I keep the kind notes
From grateful patients in my
Second desk drawer.

For mistakes, I keep
A mental file that replays
On nights I can’t sleep.

The near misses, the
Missed diagnoses, the wrong
Decisions live there.

Anxious, overweight,
Dyspneic: I almost didn’t
Order the CT.

Mitral valve prolapse,
Fatigue and night sweats; I missed

Cardiac sarcoid,
Steroids or transplant? I chose
Wrong and she soon crashed.

The stash of kind notes
Never sees the light, but the
Mental file stays fresh.

Happy endings, all
Alike. But every mistake
Cuts in its own way.

Section Editor: Rafael Campo, MD, MA, Associate Editor.
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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Michelle Kittleson, MD (michelle.kittleson@cshs.org).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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