I am a retired family physician who has witnessed the painful waits by patients and their family members for medical results over four decades. There is a tone of hubris in “Between the Airlock Doors” that compels me to declare that people are far more resilient than the author realizes. By the time patients see a subspecialist, they often have some background already as to what the overall results of a report might mean. Above all, Dr. Silberman fails to acknowledge that providing results in a timely fashion can ameliorate the pain of waiting. Receiving a dreaded result may not be the most acute cause of pain at the time when serious illness is suspected, but rather simply the pain of the unknown, which is what his vignettes describe.

What is to be mourned is a continuation of the trend toward less and less time for physicians to actually talk with patients. But this should not deprive patients of filling that need to know for sure ASAP.

Kevin M. Hepler ’76
Mechanicsburg, Pa.