Duly Noted

December 8, 2014

If Kurt Vonnegut had been a physician, would his phrase “and so it goes” have ended each section of his clinic notes? Would a patient history written by Charles Dickens wax poetic and verbose over the orphan’s plight, no matter what the patient’s chief complaint? Perhaps Ernest Hemingway’s charting would be spare with impeccable narrative development.

No, they would have wanted nothing to do with medical documentation—bastard child of the biography and the legal brief. Like the physicians who author them, medical notes are hobbled by too many conflicting functions, both banal and profound. Yet they also reflect a physician’s voice, and, under the technical jargon, a story always hides. Read the rest of this entry »