Can we really reassure patients?

I used to believe that supermarkets sold food, churches sold hope and GPs sold reassurance — but I am not so sure about the last bit anymore.

As a very young GP I wrote in a patient’s notes that I had reassured her that she didn’t have a melanoma. Clearly, I hadn’t, because she returned to see the practice principal for a second opinion.

I suspect she thought I was too young and inexperienced. However, my mentor later asked me: “How do you reassure a patient?”

We never did complete that discussion and 50 years later I still

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