Intuition and the ill infant
- By: Denis Gill
Nowhere in medicine is the use of observation, instinct, and innate experience more important than in attempting to make a clinical diagnosis in an acutely ill infant. I like to refer to this as veterinary paediatrics, as sick animals and sick children share many attributes they refuse to eat; they lie down when they are sick; their language and communication skills are limited; they depend on others to sort out their problems; and when ill they prefer to be left alone.
Sir William Osler said, There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation. This is well captured in the illustration of the sick child, a painting which used to hang on the wall of many doctors' surgeries (fig 1). It shows the doctor carefully observing an ill child placed across the chairs in a poor household. His posture is pensive, his look inquiring, but the