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Birdlike and in his 80s, the patient had come to the hospital complaining of a new cough. But it was not he whom my colleagues and I found most disquieting.  It was his middle-aged daughter.  With a practiced dexterity, she had managed to wheel her father in the clinic, hoist him on to the examining table, smooth his hair, wipe his brow and tuck blankets around his legs to keep him warm without pause as she simultaneously fielded nearly a dozen calls and texts on her cellphone.  Still, every time her cellphone rang, buzzed, gurgled or popped, she jumped and sometimes even clutched her chest. After examining her father, I asked if she was O.K.  The woman’s eyes widened; she looked as if she was going to cry.  Her father, she began to recount, had moved in with her and her husband a few years…

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