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The Nature of Clinical MedicineThe Return of the Clinician$
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Eric Cassell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199974863

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199974863.001.0001

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What are Facts in Medicine?

What are Facts in Medicine?

(p.71) Chapter 3 What are Facts in Medicine?
The Nature of Clinical Medicine

Eric J. Cassell

Oxford University Press

There were a lot of facts thrown around in Chapter 2, so in this chapter we discuss what a fact is. Most believe that a fact is a fact is a fact. In this chapter it is shown why that view may not be true. There is an impact of custom and culture on what doctors believe are facts. Facts, in clinical medicine, are of various sorts-numerical values, other test results, facts revealed by physical examination, patients’ symptoms, and others. They are clearly of different reliability. The discussion goes into all the factors that bear on what are considered facts, including values and aesthetics, and how the facts relate to each other and the whole. The importance of confidence limits in relation to facts, and what constrains as well as sets them free for clinicians are also discussed.

Keywords:   culture, custom, facts, reliability, values, aesthetics, confidence limits, symptoms

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