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March 2, 1984

Mr Cohen and the Headache

JAMA. 1984;251(9):1168. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340330028017

An intern full of facts and self-importance cannot accept a self-diagnosis from a patient without a whole battery of confirmatory tests. When this failure unnecessarily postpones even the simplest therapy, it demonstrates a need for experience to learn wisdom, common sense, and compassion.

Mr Cohen had just come over from the Jewish Home for the Aged. When I entered his room, I saw a frail, bald man with rimless glasses sitting up in bed, cradling his head in his hands.

"Mr Cohen?" I said, after introducing myself. "I'm just going to spend a few minutes with you to ask you some questions and check you over a bit. Tell me, what is the matter? What brought you to the hospital today?"

"Ach, I had a stroke," said Mr Cohen.

"No, Mr Cohen, that's not what I mean," I remonstrated. "Tell me exactly what happened. When did you get sick and