The Secret(s) of Good Patient Care: Thoughts on Medicine in the 21st Century

The Secret(s) of Good Patient Care: Thoughts on Medicine in the 21st Century

The Secret(s) of Good Patient Care: Thoughts on Medicine in the 21st Century

The Secret(s) of Good Patient Care: Thoughts on Medicine in the 21st Century

Synopsis

One of the few practicing physicians to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine and one of a rare breed of doctors who writes with clarity and ease, Dr. Felch describes his 40-year experience in the mainstream of medical care. Both as a primary care physician making house calls and as a leader in medical professional organizations, Felch reflects on everyday matters of patient care, pointing out that they are actually complex, multifaceted, and unique. He points out that today's patients frequently give high marks to their physicians for competence and proficiency, but low marks for compassion and caring. He says our scientific enterprise is exceedingly good at generating new technology, very good at carrying out basic laboratory research, quite good at mounting large clinical studies of new pharmaceuticals, but only fair at converting collective data about disease into clear-cut strategies for doctors to use with their individual patients. Readers of this book, including potential doctors, will come away with a clearer understanding of the specific activities of medical school, residency training, and patient care as a practitioner, including the problems encountered and the values received.

Excerpt

I'm convinced that medicine -- how it is practiced, its cast of characters -- has changed more dramatically in the latter half of the 20th century than ever before in its long history.

Until recently, I would have insisted that the greatest transformation in medicine took place in the fifth century B.C., the Golden Age of Greece, a time when Hippocrates and his fellow scholars developed a method for making connections between certain symptoms and diseases, and also devised -- an astonishing feat -- a code of medical ethics that is still in use. But certain of my colleagues, mostly basic science buffs, tend to root for the Renaissance, a time when physicians like Vesalius (the first systematic study of anatomy) and Harvey (deducing the circulation of the blood) laid the groundwork for the scholarly elements in modern medical science. Others, chiefly clinicians, make their case for the latter half of the 19th century, when medical science came up with some remarkable innovations, both theoretical and practical, generated by such giants as Bernard, Koch, Pasteur, Lister, the Röntgens, and Freud.

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