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On the Brain
November 18, 2019

The Patient I Didn’t Like

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece
JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(1):11-12. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3899

I didn’t like her when I first met her, and I definitely didn’t like her family. I was in my final year in medical school during my advanced medicine clerkship. I was full of excitement. As soon as I had walked in after winter holidays, the resident fellow had grabbed me and said, “There’s a lot for you to do. We have a new patient, a 30-year-old woman who was transferred here from a smaller hospital. She has a rare myopathy.”

She didn’t know much about her disease, her treatments, anything. All our questions were answered by her mother, an extremely short woman whom I found controlling. She claimed (the mother was the only one who spoke) that she was fully satisfied by the physicians but had complaints about everything else; if she wasn’t asking for a change of room or yelling at the cleaning personnel for not meeting her cleaning standards, she was disturbing the nurses or complaining about something else to a stranger in the corridor.

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