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The doctor is not dead and yada, yada, yada

Before Jerry Seinfeld started writing jokes and appearing on television, there were doctors and scientists named Seinfeld writing medical research papers and getting their work published in medical journals.

In one classic “Seinfeld” episode, Jerry purposely bombed or “died” in an attempt to sabotage the act of the comedian following him on stage, but in one issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, an Irving Seinfeld was mentioned for just being alive.

This topic comes up because a reference to a “Seinfeld” episode was cited in a recent Health Affairs report on physician-patient relationships. It turned out to be a great illustration of people's fears about the consequences of being labeled a “difficult patient.”

I suppose it's only fair that healthcare journals cite “Seinfeld,” since the medical profession has often been a source of jokes for the comedian. But for others named “Seinfeld” the world of medicine was a serious business.

Searching through medical journal archives, you learn that a Seinfeld apparently has never authored a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, but B.M Seinfeld and D. Seinfeld are cited a couple times as references in other non-Seinfeld-written reports.

In JAMA, an Edward Seinfeld wrote a 1948 piece “Medical Conditions in Alaska,” and it's mentioned that Samuel G. Seinfeld married Miss Charlotte Lois Strumpf on Feb. 10, 1935.

There is an item in JAMA from 1965 that I couldn't pull up that is apparently a correction, and it has the headline “Irving Seinfeld, MD, of Brooklyn, Is Not Dead.”

If I were as clever as Jerry Seinfeld, I could probably come up with a good joke about that. Instead, all I could think of was a good birthday toast: “May you live 20 years after JAMA says you're dead.”

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.

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