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The thin red line

Abstract

The following case was presented to an informal support group by a medical student, following the student's expressed concern that he seemed to be looking after more patients who had been harmed by their period in hospital than who had benefited. When asked to give an example, he introduced the following case of a widower crippled by coronary artery disease, who underwent an investigation which he did not understand, which was to gain experimental knowledge, and which ultimately appears to have done him serious harm. As the discussion took place in the student's own hospital, the names of the participants have been changed. The student presents the case, and the group afterwards attempt to define more clearly their misgivings.

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