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April 6, 1970

Physicians Are Patients Too

JAMA. 1970;212(1):147. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170140103026

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Doctors and their wives are patients too. Yet when they see a family physician, he is likely to view them differently than his other patients. His history-taking may be less searching, his examination less exhaustive except when it comes to ordering laboratory tests, his follow-up negligible or nearly so.

What accounts for the difference in attitude of a reliable physician toward another physician-patient or the wife? Is it because charging a fee is not intended? Probably not. In fact, all parties would be more comfortable if charges were made. Then the patients wouldn't feel obliged to send presents at Christmas and the family physician would be spared the trouble of writing thank you notes.

The likeliest answer seems to be that the family physician expects the physician-patient and the wife to tell all without being asked and to call attention to known physical imperfections or emotional problems. But they don't