Medicine: Ghosts in the Surgery

Ravic saw only the covered patient; he knew only the narrow, iodine-stained area of the body bared for the operation. He very often did not even know on whom he operated. [Someone else] gave him the diagnosis and he began to cut . . .

The ghost surgeon in this case was the hero of Erich Maria Remarque's bestseller about prewar Paris, Arch of Triumph, but medical ghosts walk not only in fiction. They perform operations in U.S. hospitals every day. It works this way: the family doctor tells a patient that an operation is necessary and either says flatly, or strongly...

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