American medicine attracts some of the brightest and most motivated people the country has to offer, and it boasts the most advanced medical technology in the world, a wondrous parade of machines and techniques such as PET scans, MRI, angioplasty, endoscopy, bypasses, organ transplants, and much more besides. And yet, writes Dr. Eric Cassell, what ...
American medicine attracts some of the brightest and most motivated people the country has to offer, and it boasts the most advanced medical technology in the world, a wondrous parade of machines and techniques such as PET scans, MRI, angioplasty, endoscopy, bypasses, organ transplants, and much more besides. And yet, writes Dr. Eric Cassell, what started out early in the century as the exciting conquest of disease, has evolved into an overly expensive, over technologized, uncaring medicine, poorly suited to the health care needs of a society marked by an aging population and a predominance of chronic diseases. In Doctoring: The Nature of Primary Care Medicine, Dr. Cassell shows convincingly how much better fitted advanced concepts of primary care medicine are to America's health care needs. He offers valuable insights into how primary care physicians can be better trained to meet the needs of their patients, both well and sick, and to keep these patients as the focus of their practice. Modern medical training arose at a time when medical science was in ascendancy, Cassell notes. Thus the ideals of science--objectivity, rationality--became the ideals of medicine, and disease--the target of most medical research--became the logical focus of medical practice. When clinicians treat a patient with pneumonia, they are apt to be thinking about pneumonia in general--which is how they learn about the disease--rather than this person's pneumonia. This objective, rational approach has its value, but when it dominates a physician's approach to medicine, it can create problems. For instance, treating chronic disease--such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, stroke, emphysema, and congestive heart failure--is not simply a matter of medical knowledge, for it demands a great deal of effort by the patients themselves: they have to keep their doctor appointments, take their medication, do their exercises, stop smoking. The patient thus has a profound effect on the c
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