Bad Medicine. Doctors Doing Harm since Hippocrates by David Wootton

By David Wootton

Simply how a lot stable has drugs performed through the years? and what sort of harm does it proceed to do?
The background of drugs starts off with Hippocrates within the 5th century BC. but until eventually the discovery of antibiotics within the Nineteen Thirties medical professionals, more often than not, did their sufferers extra damage than good.
In this attention-grabbing new examine the historical past of drugs, David Wootton argues that for greater than 2300 years medical professionals have trusted their sufferers' lost religion of their skill to treatment. time and again significant discoveries which can retailer lives have been met with expert resistance. And this isn't only a phenomenon of the far away earlier. the 1st sufferer successfully taken care of with penicillin used to be within the Eighteen Eighties; the second one now not till the Nineteen Forties. there has been overwhelming facts that smoking triggered lung melanoma within the Fifties; however it took thirty years for medical professionals to simply accept the declare that smoking was once addictive. As Wootton graphically illustrates, all through background and correct as much as the current, undesirable scientific perform has frequently been deeply entrenched and stubbornly proof against evidence.
This is a daring and hard book--and the 1st common background of medication to recognize the frequency with which medical professionals do damage.

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In the ancient world bloodletting had its opponents. 330–255 bc) thought bloodletting was dangerous, and preferred to get rid of excessive blood by fasting. But the main disputes were over where to let the blood from, for some said it should be from close to the affected organ, some from as far away as possible, and over how much to let: the leading authorities were prepared to let blood up to the point when the patient fainted. Disputes over these matters were to continue as long as the tradition of ancient medicine survived.

We know how to write about successful treatments and lives saved, but not about worthless therapies and lives lost. We know how to write oldfashioned histories of progress, although for the most part we choose not to do so. Because we only know how to tell one half of the story, the story we could tell is so obviously unsatisfactory that (if we are professional historians) we usually choose not to tell it. Many years ago, in 1932, a famous historian, Herbert Butterfield, wrote an attack on narratives of progress called The Whig Interpretation of History.

Only once there was a treatment for tuberculosis did the stethoscope become a powerful tool. And this is one example of a much wider pattern. Much knowledge that was effectively useless at first became useful once new therapies began to be devised. The knowledge about human physiology and the diagnostic techniques that had been accumulated by doctors over time took on a new significance once introduction: bad medicine ⁄ better medicine 17 they could be used to enable effective therapies; in that sense modern doctors have been able to draw on reserves of knowledge accumulated over centuries, just as modern astronomers could draw on the knowledge accumulated by astrologers.

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