Originally posted on TED Blog:

By Paul Farmer

At the end of almost a decade spent in teaching hospitals and clinics, most (we hope all) physicians have honed their clinical acumen by focusing on the care of the patient who is right in front of them. Perhaps this is as it should be: as patients, we don’t want our doctors (or nurses or social workers) distracted by “outside” considerations such as the suffering or concerns of other patients not there in the exam room or, heaven forfend, by abstractions such as the extra-personal social forces that place people in harm’s way. We want the doctor focused on us, by bringing expertise and attention to our specific “illness episode” and even to our minor aches and pains. That’s what we want: laser-like focus, to use another term from the medical profession, on our own “chief complaint.”

Or do we? What if most of our aches and…

View original 5,217 more words