Second Opinion: Doctors, Diseases and Decisions In Modern Medicine by Richard Horton - review by James Le Fanu

James Le Fanu

Under The Knife

Second Opinion: Doctors, Diseases and Decisions In Modern Medicine


Granta Books 582pp £17.99

CONTEMPORARY MEDICINE PRESENTS a most perplexing paradox. The therapeutic revolution which has taken place over the past My years marks that period out as one of the great epochs in the history of human achievement - when a vast spectrum of apparently intractable causes of suffering and death were rapidly, and unexpectedly, resolved. Indeed, it is now almost impossible for us to imagine (or, for some, remember) what life was hke back in 1945, when children in Britain still died in their thousands hm polio, whooping cough and diphtheria, when there were no drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis or schizophrenia, or for virtually any of the &seases that doctors encountered: a time before open-heart surgery, trans~lantationa nd test-tube babies.

These and a multitude of other discoveries and innovations have been of immeasurable benefit. And yet rather than glorying in the awesome progress of the past few decades, doctors are fed up and disillusioned; the public are more neurotic than ever about their physical wellbeing; and while the continuing upward

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