28 April 2008

Ancient wisdom

A friend sent me this scanned page from a book published in 1902 for the education of malaria patients:
That's what I've been telling people all along!


  1. I like the part about "state the facts and OBEY".

  2. Meeeh....

    I guess I'm curious to what extent you agree with that excerpt. It's certainly true that it's more pleasurable to work with a cooperative patient (indeed it's usually a requirement for procedures to be effective that the patient cooperates). On the other hand, the text has the good old "father knows best" tone that would be great if there weren't so many incompetent physicians out there.

    I think a more realistic message is not "trust your doctor he knows what he's doing," I would say the message is "Make up your damn mind, if you're going to do the treatment then don't half-ass it" (ok, less eloquent :P)

  3. I love it. My favorite ID doc may get a copy.

    But how does this little bit of wisdom apply to the old adage, "Physician, heal thyself."?

  4. Well, after all, this was before we had the Internet and people could diagnose themselves!

  5. Well, the old thinking was that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could crank out "Hamlet", but now the internet has proven this wrong.

    I agree with anon 4:49 that there are many docs out there that may not be all that competent, but at least most of them would know to treat illnesses with science based medicine rather than quackery

  6. Obviously the relationship will be much more productive if there is some level of mutual trust and respect.

    But doctors don't always get it right. In fact, if I had gone with a doctor's cursory evaluation instead of listening to my gut, I'd be minus my right arm, quite literally.

    You guys want to be up on that pedestal when it comes to your medical judgment, skill and knowledge. But you want the world to cut you some slack for being human when you screw up.

    So which is it gonna be?

    Not meant as a smackdown, because you guys are the experts and I'm not in a place to tell you what to do. But there's nothing wrong with patients asking questions. Indeed, patients shouldn't go along blindly with whatever the doctor orders.

  7. Anon 12:24 -
    Clearly asking questions is the right thing to do.
    I suppose my comment strayed from the original topic of the post.
    I meant merely to criticize the idea that the internet allows people to diagnose themselves.
    Returning to the post at 4:49 (same anon?), I too think that the original post has an overtly paternalistic tone. I took it as a tongue in cheek comment by Dr. S, and not necessarily an expression of his true treatment philosophy. My guess is that, even in the ED setting, he encourages questions that increase understanding and adherence to therapy.

  8. And, yes, this is tongue-in-cheek. Sigh.


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