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On the Brain
December 2, 2019

Hail Mary

Author Affiliations
  • 1Northwell Health, The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, New York
JAMA Neurol. Published online December 2, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3950

The call from the neurosurgical resident came at 4 am. He had just gotten off the telephone with the patient’s family–they were struggling with the decision to proceed with emergency surgery and wanted me to help them decide.

I had known the patient for more than 20 years. I had not seen him in recent years because it was difficult for him to travel to my office, but I had continued to care for his wife and, over those 20 years, had treated several other family members. I became, if not the “family physician,” then the “family medical consultant,” fielding calls seeking my advice on every medical issue they faced from pneumonia to dementia.

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