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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

in practice

Actors help doctors learn to convey empathy

Early one morning when I was an intern, a truck driver, a father of four in his 40s, came to the ER with a cough and a low-grade fever. Two hours later he was dead, from an overwhelming staph infection. The resident on duty thought it would be instructive for me to deliver this news to the man’s wife, who stood waiting in the hall, not suspecting that anything was seriously wrong. I stepped into the crowded corridor, found her, and said the first thing that came into my head, something I’d undoubtedly remembered from a B movie: “We lost him. There was nothing we could do.”

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