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Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care
  1. J Gilbert

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    N A Christakis. University of Chicago Press, 1999, US$30.00, pp 328. ISBN 0 226 10470 2

    Many doctors these days are aware of powerful disincentives to the giving of specific prognoses. The mentioning of an estimated time, even if heavily qualified, is likely to be heard by both patients and their loved ones as “the doctor gave me two months to live”. The result? Patients and relatives feeling cheated if the prognosis turns out to be an overestimate, anxious or worse if an underestimate, and colleagues critical of the doctor for having had the arrogance to predict, no matter what the actual outcome. It is not surprising therefore that doctors wishing to avoid these results …

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