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Article
December 1965

TRUTH VS OPTIMISTIC UNCERTAINTY

Author Affiliations

1 Summit St Philadelphia, Pa

Arch Otolaryngol. 1965;82(6):671-672. doi:10.1001/archotol.1965.00760010673033

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Abstract

To the Editor: I read your editorial "The Terminal Patient" with great interest and enjoyed it and agreed with everything that you said. However, your statements that the physician "must tell the patient the facts of his physical condition as truthfully and as fully as the patient wishes to know them," and "a good physician cannot lie to his patient," seem to me too categorical, because I feel that there are exceptions where the physician cannot avoid to lie to his patient. I give you only two impressive examples.

Case 1: Being a bronchologist I was called with several other physicians for consultation in the case of an 85-year-old otolaryngologist and retired university professor in Budapest. Symptoms and x-rays left no doubt that he had incurable bronchogenic carcinoma with metastasis in the peribronchial and mediastinal lymph nodes. The old gentleman was a stubborn autocrat during his whole life. He was

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