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April 1986

Have I Performed the Right Operation?

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1986;112(4):385-387. doi:10.1001/archotol.1986.03780040025006

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The concept of this article has grown out of a lifetime experience of performing thousands of operations and answering the query as to whether they were the "right operations." I tried to analyze this from the reality of the medical and surgical point of view and with a balance of philosophy. This balancing act was quite revealing in both answering and asking questions. I am not so presumptuous as to think that I can answer this enigmatic and challenging proposition or, indeed, that there is a universal answer. This proposition has ramifications that extend not only into the foundations of our professionalism, but also into the delicate fabric of our moral and ethical existence. This personal interrogation may unsettle our equanimity, equate our craftsmanship, and question our integrity with haunting queries as to "What is the right operation?" and "How do we know?" I have intentionally used the plural personal

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