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[Perspectives] The judgment dilemma

Samuel Shem’s satirical novel House of God (1978) placed a magnifying glass on the callousness of medical training and hospital life. Although he exaggerated the toxic nature of the physician–patient relationship, he captured startling elements of hospital culture, such as physicians’ use of phrases like “lol in nad” (little old lady in no apparent distress) and “gomer” (get out of my emergency room)—terms that are still a part of the medical lexicon. House of God also exposed physicians’ tendency to make judgments about patients seconds after meeting them.