4 out of 4 stars
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An effective physician treats not the disease but the person who has the disease. This is the treatment philosophy of the great nineteenth-century diagnostician Dr. William Osler, credited with being the father of modern medicine. Our author, Clifton K. Meador, M.D., has based his medical career on compassionate, scientifically sound care of patients and medical students. Drawing from the late Dr. Osler’s patient-centered guidance, Dr. Meador neatly distills the humanistic message in A Little Book of Doctors’ Rules III… for Oslerian Clinicians.
Speaking to both the art and science of practicing medicine, Dr. Meador offers 375 rules addressing topics including proper rapport with patients, treating dementia, and the proper use of medication. Fascinated by patients with symptoms of unknown origin, Dr. Meador’s wisdom often gravitates toward diagnostic processes. The author, mining his nearly sixty-year medical career for nuggets of advice, deftly manages to write with both compassion and humor.
While written for medical students and professionals, these short rules are easily comprehended and non-technical (mostly). Rule number five reads, “When you are listening to a patient, do not do anything else. Just listen.” This is a balm to the soul of anyone who has had a doctor barely glance at them, or talk with a hand on the door handle. Dr. Meador’s advice ranges from sage and somber to clever and controversial. Here is a small sampling:
- Stop all drugs if possible. If impossible, stop as many as possible.
- If there are difficult patients, then there are difficult physicians. We are of the same species, believe it or not.
- Just because you know a lot of physiology, biochemistry, and anatomy does not mean you know anything about life or people.
- If the patient is a man and there are several women present in the room when you enter, never guess which one is the wife.
-All patients will lie about something. Some will lie about everything.
- With an undiagnosed seriously ill patient, there is probably a physician somewhere who will know what the patient has. Find that physician.
This quick read of just under 100 pages appears to have been professionally edited as I found very few errors. I noted a few small problems in the realm of formatting and layout. The section titles are impacted by high contrast graphics that are placed behind them, making it nearly impossible to read them. And some of the bullet graphics for the rules are misaligned. These issues did not impede my appreciation of the book. I have enjoyed a layperson’s study of complementary medicine and took the chance that this book wasn’t over my head. I wasn’t disappointed. I think I only had to look up three or four terms I didn’t know. I rate A Little Book of Doctors’ Rules III 4 out of 4 stars.
I recommend this book to medical professionals and medical students, as well as to any consumer interested in understanding more about how a physician’s inner process works. If you are mistrusting of medical professionals, these proverbs may revive your trust in what’s possible. What’s sure is that Dr. Meador sets the bar higher for our health care professionals. I would be pleased if my doctors aspired to follow these rules.
A Little Book of Doctors’ Rules III ... for Oslerian Clinicians
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