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April 1988

Suspicion of Multiple Sclerosis: To Tell or Not to Tell?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Neurological Service of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.

Arch Neurol. 1988;45(4):441-442. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520280091021

The medical community has become progressively concerned with ethics and humanism, especially with regard to the relationship between the physician and the dying patient. Clinicians, however, are frequently faced with the difficult task of dealing with both patient and family at a time when a most serious diagnosis is initially established. For the neurologist, multiple sclerosis presents a unique problem. It is recognized that there are not only severe forms of this illness (or group of illnesses), but also relatively benign ones.1,2 Most importantly, the neurologist cannot predict for any one patient early in the course of the disease what the patient's particular future will be.

A major issue is the communication of anxiety-laden, clinical information to patients (and relatives). Many leaders of our society assert the "right to know" so that one may determine one's own life course. Only the patient has the right to determine his or

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