Why We Need to Speak Differently About Death and Disease | Pranay Sinha

February 25, 2015 8:22 PM

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Why We Need to Speak Differently About Death and Disease | Pranay Sinha

The metaphor of war in medicine is pervasive. We talk dispassionately of battling cancer and fighting infections with "big gun" antibiotics. Such violent imagery in a profession that seeks to heal and comfort seems incongruous. Caring for terminally ill patients during medical school and residency has convinced me that an unthinking adoption of this metaphor can hurt our patients.

Louie was a short man, but he looked imposing as he sat at the edge of the bed with his spine ramrod straight. "Doc," he said with the imperiousness of a sergeant major, "what's the plan of attack?" I explained that I needed to hear his story before devising any therapeutic plans. With a sigh, he to...

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