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Tribute to a doctor


The doctor watching through the night with his young patient in a painting by Sir Luke Fildes. Tate Collection

Writing in the Wall Street Journal about affordable health care, Abraham Verghese described the wrenching experience of the artist -

Fildes lost his oldest son, Phillip, on Christmas Eve, 1877. He was so impressed with the physician who cared for the child, that for his first commission from sugar merchant Henry Tate (who would go on to establish a collection and gallery in London by his name) he chose to depict "the physician in our time."

. . .The doctor seated by his patient, leans forward, chin on his hand, intently studying the child. His posture and gaze suggest that nothing less than the child’s recovery (or death) would lead him to break his vigil. The anxious parents are in the background waiting for some sign from the doctor.

It's a beautiful tribute. My co-editor, Dr David Abbott, is also a dedicated doctor. It would be good if health care systems encouraged devoted doctors.

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