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April 27, 1984


Author Affiliations

Manhattan Medical Group, PC Manhattan Health Center New York

JAMA. 1984;251(16):2083. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340400019007

To the Editor.—  In his article entitled "Uncertainty Rounds," Dr Cohen1 advises physicians on compassion and understanding of a patient under circumstances of an uncertainty, and I address myself to that alone. The response of the physician to the question, unfortunately, cannot always be an answer. The physician's attitude toward the patient questioner has to be considered in light of how the question is put, why it is put, and, most important, what the patient expects. Regarding the latter aspect, I believe that in today's atmosphere, too many patients expect a definite answer to any question. They are told, partially by the media, that science is wonderful and has the answers, and when the physician in many circumstances still has no answer, the patient is angry. Yes, physicians should use compassion and understanding, but implied in this is a need for the patient to understand that we do not