The patient who changed the way I practice family medicine


She left unconvinced, and I returned to my on-call chores. I chastised myself for what I perceived as a waste of my time.

Six months later, I received a note from this woman. She explained that although at the time she had been angry with me for not giving her what she wanted, she also realized for the first time that she had a prescription drug addiction. Maybe no one else had been quite as blunt as I had been, or maybe it was just the right time for her to hear those words. After our encounter, this brave woman had gotten help from a rehabilitation facility, and now she was thanking me for that difficult conversation—“the confrontation,” as she called it.

I learned a huge lesson that day: Don’t give up on people. You never know when your words might touch someone in ways not foreseen or imagined.

The authors reported no potential conflict of interest relevant to this article.


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