Francis Peabody

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Francis Peabody (November 24, 1881 - October 13, 1927) was an American physician and medical researcher.

For the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.



The Care of the Patient ; Journal of the American Medical Association (1927)

  • The good physician knows his patients through and through, and his knowledge is bought dearly. Time, sympathy, and understanding must be lavishly dispensed, but the reward is to be found in that personal bond which forms the greatest satisfaction of the practice of medicine. One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.
  • What is spoken of as a clinical picture is not just a photograph of a sick man in bed; it is an impressionistic painting of the patient surrounded by his home, his work, his relations, his friends, his joys, sorrows, hopes and fears. Now all of this background of sickness which bears so strongly on the symptomatology is liable to be lost sight of in the hospital.
  • Look out for all the little incidental things that you can do for his comfort. These, too, are part of the care of the patient. Some of them will fall technically in the field of nursing but you will always be profoundly grateful for any nursing technic that you have acquired. It is worth your while to get the nurse to teach you the right way to feed a patient, change the bed, or give a bedpan.
  • is much easier to make a wrong diagnosis than it is to unmake it.

Notes on the Effect of Morphine (1927)

  • My own professional and personal experience has shown me that morphine is the gift of God, but depending upon how it is used it may be either “God’s Own Medicine” or “The Devil’s Own Poison.”

Quotes about Francis Peabody

  • Dr. Francis W. Peabody was still a young man when he wrote one of the great classics of American medicine, The Care of the Patient. He knew he was suffering of malignant disease at the time when he gave his address to the Harvard graduating class on October 21, 1926, and he died one year later at age 47.
  • Peabody’s wife remembered him saying, “I am absolutely sure that this little lecture will be remembered long after anything of a scientific nature I have written has been forgotten.”
  • He liked people. He had delightful social qualities, and concealed a seriousness of mind and a great earnestness of purpose under a delightful and winning humor.
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