Paging Dr. Harry Potter

Reading from medical journals isn’t often this much fun.

CMAJ. 2006 Dec 5;175(12):1557-9.

Erle C.H. Lim, Amy M.L. Quek and Raymond C.S. Seet
Duty of care to the undiagnosed patient: Ethical imperative, or just a load of Hogwarts?


With the restoration of You-Know-Who to full corporeal form, the practice of the dark arts may lead to multitudes being charmed, befuddled and confounded. At present, muggle ethics dictate that aid may be rendered in a life-or limb-threatening situation, but the margins are blurred when neither is at stake. Muggle and wizard healers, fearful of being labelled ambulance chasers, may shy away from approaching those who remain blissfully unaware of their illnesses. We describe 4 case studies in which we intervened as muggle healers, to salutary effect. The afflicted were healed or helped, without bringing the weight of the Ministries of Magic or Magical Healing upon us. We advocate a spirit of cooperation between muggle and magical folk, mindful of the strengths that the healing arts from each community have to offer. As long as the intent is beneficent, healers or even the wizard or muggle on the street may intervene and render aid to the afflicted.

Contains notes on both Wizard and Muggle medicine as observed at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries:

While at St. Mungo’s, we were struck by the number of people (healers and lay-wizards alike) who suffered from hitherto undiagnosed conditions. Wizard healers, unaccustomed to muggle ailments such as Tourette’s syndrome, failed to identify it in 2 of their number, who spent much of their time fidgeting, writhing and grunting expostulations. One of them had attributed the ailment to having been cursed as a child with the Imperius curse by YKW. How simple it would have been for us to point the way to a neurology text book, but being cross-trained in both the muggle and magical healing arts rendered us uncertain of our moral stance, and thus mute.

Full text: [HTML] [PDF]

Thanks to the Canadian Medical Association Journal for the grins and to Becky for catching this and pointing it out. (Becky found it via this blog)

6 thoughts on “Paging Dr. Harry Potter

  1. Hi Bentley-

    There’s actually a good bit of humor in medical literature.

    I’ve taken the liberty of sending you an email with a list of free full-text articles found via PubMed search: (“wit and humor”[MeSH Terms] AND “loattrfree full text”[sb]).

    Enjoy. šŸ™‚



  2. BMJ is the one with the holiday issue, though in recent years, CMAJ has been a very close second. Look to CMAJ for the study on nodding and napping in medical lectures ( and the effect of lunchtime on consensus making in meetings ( BMJ has the more classic gems on the health benefits of shaken versus stirred martinis, comparing apples to oranges, and most recently, the definitive study on whether surgeons are better looking than physicians. I use practically all of these examples in my exercises for MEDLINE and PubMed classes, and also am particularly fond of the ICE-H study. You guys are medical librarians–I’ll let you find the citations! šŸ™‚