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The Art of Consultation

Arthur L. Bloomfield, M.D.
AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;103(6):849-850. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270060001001.
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From time immemorial doctors have sought each other's advice about their patients. Hogarth's side-splitting print "A Consultation of Physicians" was published in 1736. By the midnineteenth century the technique and manners of doctors' "getting together" were clearly formulated. Everyone who reads Anthony Trollope will remember in "Barchester Towers," when the old Bishop lay dying, the careful protocol which was followed in having Sir Omicron Pie come down from London to see him. No less entertaining are the passages in "Dr. Thorne" between Dr. Thorne and Dr. Fillgrave, when violation of the niceties of consultation led to the enraged exit of the latter. At any rate, it should be made clear that a consultation is not a haphazard affair but serious business, with "manners" no less rigid than those laid down by Mrs. Post for other fields of human relations.

The first rule of consultation is, of course, that the physicians


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