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Book Review: Time to Care: Personal Medicine in the Age of Technology

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time2careIn 1925, Francis Peabody famously said “The secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” A new book by Norman Makous, MD, a cardiologist who has practiced for 60 years, is a cogent reminder of that principle.

In Time to Care: Personal Medicine in the Age of Technology, Dr. Makous tackles a big subject. He attempts to show how modern medicine got to where it is today, what’s wrong with it, and how to fix it. For me, the best part of the book is the abundance of anecdotes showing how medicine has changed since Dr. Makous graduated from medical school in 1947. He gives many examples of what it was like to treat patients before technology and effective medications were introduced. He describes a patient who died of ventricular fibrillation before defibrillators were invented, the first patient ever to survive endocarditis at his hospital (a survival made possible by penicillin), a polio epidemic before polio had been identified as an infectious disease, the rows of beds in the tuberculosis sanitariums that no longer exist because we have effective treatments for TB. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 250px.jpgThis past weekend’s international science communication conference, ScienceOnline2010, also saw the first, final hardback copies of Rebecca Skloot’s long-awaited book make it into the hands of the science and journalism consuming public. Moreover, an excerpt of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has just appeared in the new issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. And already, those online science communicators who left the conference with Skloot’s book are registering their praise via this Twitter feed that was so active it was a trending topic at the science aggregator, SciencePond.

The story of the rural, Virginia woman who descended from slaves and developed cervical cancer in the early 1950s is notable most obviously for her tumors giving rise to HeLa, the first immortalized human cell line continuously maintained in culture. I have noted previously my enthusiasm for this story as both a long-time admirer of Skloot’s writing and the fact that HeLa played a central role in my PhD thesis work and first papers from my independent laboratory. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

Book Review: FDR’s Deadly Secret (Malignant Melanoma)

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Earlier today I wrote a short article which resulted in correspondence with one of the authors of the new book, ‘FDR’s Deadly Secret’ by Steven Lomazow and Eric Fettmann.

Dr. Steven Lomazow sent me a copy of his Archives of Dermatology article with Dr. Bernard Ackerman, this photo, and a pdf of his book which I have spent the afternoon reading.

The article goes through a series of photos of FDR from his younger days to his older ones, showing the progression and changes. From the article: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Book Review Of Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon In Iraq

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War can paradoxically bring out the best in people. Despite the violence, tragedy, and pain, there are moments of kindness, compassion, and brave camaraderie. Soldiers band together as brothers and sisters under terrible

circumstances to offer their lives in support of a nation they deem just and vulnerable. Often they are terribly wounded. Families on both sides of the conflict suffer and grieve sickening losses. The reasons for war seldom justify the human misery it causes, but perhaps one type of soldier has the luxury of always being on the right side. Consider the medic, nurse, or military doctor. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Book Review: All Medicines Are Poison!

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That’s the title of a new book by Melvin H. Kirschner, M.D. When I first saw the title, I expected a polemic against conventional medicine. The first line of the Preface reassured me: “Everything we do has a risk-benefit ratio.” Dr. Kirschner took the title from his first pharmacology lecture in medical school. The professor said “I am here to teach you how to poison people.” After a pause, he added, “without killing them, of course.”

He meant that any medicine that has effects has side effects, that the poison is in the dose, and that we must weigh the benefits of any treatment against the risks. Dr. Kirschner has no beef with scientific medicine. He does have a lot of other beefs, mainly with the health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and alternative medicine. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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