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April 2015

Bedside Encounter

Author Affiliations
  • 1Palliative Care, Charleston, South Carolina
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):487-488. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8318

The attending physician was trailed by 5 trainees: 2 medical students, 1 intern, a resident, and a fellow. As they stopped at the door to the patient's room, the attending physician spoke.

“Who is this and what's wrong with them?”

I was in the room finishing my consult with Mrs Jones (all names have been changed), a woman in her 50s with presumed bowel obstruction secondary to metastatic colon cancer, and could clearly hear the attending physician’s words, as could the patient and her family. I looked at them out of embarrassment. Her husband and daughter turned away as Mrs Jones smiled a counterfeit smile and said “I understand, you doctors are busy.”