[PW] Adage: It is more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what disease a patient has

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Sat Jul 20 21:07:03 PDT 2019

Garson O'Toole wrote:
> > Multiple requests to examine the saying in the subject line have been
> > sent to me over the years. It is often ascribed to William Osler, one
> > of the creators of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Donna Halper wrote:
> It is also ascribed to Dr. Woods Hutchinson, in 1912, as per the Boston
> Globe, 3 November 1912 (p. 32)  "Benzoate of Soda Defended," republished
> in a number of other newspapers. I've seen it ascribed to Hutchinson as
> early as 1905, in fact, although that citationin  the Monthly
> Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine, p 396, does reference Maxon too.

Thanks for searching, Donna. The citations you identified fit together
well with the current information.

Woods Hutchinson was the primary popularizer of the saying. The
earliest instance I uncovered was spoken by Hutchinson on June 3,
1902. He also published it in "The Lancet" in 1903 and JAMA in 1904.
In all of these citations he credited Moxon.

In 1912 Hutchinson may have omitted Moxon's name during his speech, or
“The Boston Sunday Globe" journalist may have missed the name while
transcribing the speech.

I added the 1905 and 1912 citations to the article and thanked you in
the acknowledgement. (The changes may take some time to propagate.)


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