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October 3, 1977

The Forensic Pathologist: "Family Physician" to the Bereaved

JAMA. 1977;238(14):1496. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280150066009

To the Editor.—  Lester Adelson, MD, (237:1585) is to be commended for pointing out the need for humanism in the relationship between the forensic pathologist and the families of the recently-deceased people he examines. There is no group of people for whom sympathetic listening and intelligent explanation are more important. Careful handling of these matters by the pathologist can prevent much unnecessary suffering by the bereaved, and Dr Adelson's contribution is welcome.We must, however, take exception to the use of the term "family physician" in this context. The rediscovery of the need for continuing, comprehensive, family-centered medical care represents a definite step forward, but we family physicians are now in danger of being loved to death. The crisis management techniques advocated by Dr Adelson, desirable as they may be, are in no way comparable to the continuing care provided by family physicians.We must also challenge the assumption that