Partners HealthCare System

How Should We Treat This Patient?

BLACKFORD MIDDLETON, MD, knew what was wrong with his patient before he even spoke. He'd heard the middle-aged male patient cough as he came into his office; he'd seen the color of the mucus on the patient's handkerchief as he sat down. He'd noticed the man's lethargic movement from the waiting room into the office. “Looks like a URI to me,” he thought to himself. It seemed likely that the patient had an upper respiratory infection (URI), possibly a sinus infection or sinusitis.1

Middleton, who was, among other things, a physician at Partners HealthCare in Boston, of course examined the patient despite his suspicions. He confirmed that all the classic symptoms of a URI were present. ...

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