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The Moral of the Story

What’s a doctor to do when a child comes in with the symptoms of vomiting, infected ears and being “clingy and cranky”?  Dr. Perri Klass assumed that this was an ear infection, but discussion with the patient’s mother revealed that the child had fallen on his head just a day earlier. Should the doctor order an expensive CT scan when the probability that brain damage occured is very low, or should the doctor send the patient home with instructions of how to care for an ear infection and risk having the child die if brain damage is left undected.  This moving story is in the May 29, 2008 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hat tip to The Sentinel Effect.