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May 31, 1902


JAMA. 1902;XXXVIII(22):1443-1444. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.02480220029005

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An American humorist said not long ago: "If the Christyan Scientists had some science an' the doctors more Christyanity, it wudden't make any difference what ye called the disease—if ye only had a good nurse." The passage, of course, has been much quoted. It is only with the last phrase that we have any fault to find, and that solely because, while containing a modicum of truth, it is liable to render still more popular than before the wrong interpretation of an expression often, unfortunately it seems to us, used without exact definition of its meaning, even by physicians themselves. In recent years we frequently hear the expression, "What is needed is good nursing." With regard to the specific fevers that run a definite course and are self-limited, the expression is very appropriate. The public and the medical profession, however, understand the maxim in entirely different senses. The physician means

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