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October 14, 1983

Technical Zeal or Therapeutic Purpose— How to Decide?

JAMA. 1983;250(14):1857-1859. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340140027023

THE ANXIOUS voice on the other end of the telephone queried, "Ralph, this is Eugene Medford. I would like to talk to you soon, today if possible." I immediately placed him as a colleague I knew for his reputation as an excellent surgeon. Pausing, I looked at my schedule and found a canceled hour at 4 PM. "I will be there at four," came his immediate reply, and as it turned out, he was precisely on time, burdened with a tragic tale of medical care out of control, the tyranny of medical technology.

Although retired, Gene came through the door as if entering an operating room, disciplined, concentrating on the problem at hand, concerned to see it through to a proper conclusion. His erect carriage and trim body belied his silver-haired, 73 years, and once seated squarely in the center of the patient's chair, he wasted no time. "No, it