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July 21, 1993

Being Called to Care for the Mighty Poses Unique Challenges for Attending Physician

JAMA. 1993;270(3):298-301. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510030022006

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BEING a head of state can be hazardous to one's health. It takes a disciplined corps of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals to provide proper care for a national leader without being overawed by the fact they are treating a president or prime minister, not to mention a dictator.

Perhaps the best example of good care of one leader in one medical situation, says Mark Smith, MD, is the emergency department trauma team nurse at the George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC, who prepped and inserted an intravenous line into a gun shot victim before she looked up and saw that the patient was the then-President Ronald Reagan.

Smith, director of emergency medicine at George Washington University Medical Center, was one of the speakers at a conference held by the university on the medical care of very important persons (VIPs). As far as emergency care goes, although hospitals