The moment: a tale of three doctors

‘…in the raw cold of that leaden crisis in the four-and-twenty hours when the vital force of all the noblest and prettiest things that live is at its lowest…’ Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend _____ 'This seraph-band, each waved his hand: It was a heavenly, sight! They stood as signals to the land, Each one... Continue Reading →

Signs

Another brief exercise in wondering what it’s like for patients who meet our kind in certain situations. The other day a junior colleague described to me, over lunch, a patient who had been admitted with unusual and florid signs, due to a disease that is not commonly seen. I clapped my hands and said, ‘Excellent!’... Continue Reading →

Substitutes

You invite the closest relative of a critically ill patient into a private room and discuss what can be done, what can't be done, what's realistic, what's inevitable...and gain a sense of what your patient's attitude to major medical intervention might have been. You ask a question, 'What do you think they would want us... Continue Reading →

Blaming patients: a very human temptation

Being human, doctors sometimes blame others when things go wrong. Because they spend most of their time interacting with patients, there is a temptation to blame them. The purist might argue that a patient can never be responsible for suboptimal care, medical error or lifestyle associated disease, but the issue is complicated and deserving of... Continue Reading →

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