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Posts Tagged ‘history of medicine’

Some scientists are  known for their discovery ,  few are known for their vision  few for their character .Here was a man who  had  all of them  can be termed as father of modern medicine .

Rudolf Virchow - German pathologist( 1821-1902)

Unfortunately the current generation knows him for his concept and theory of blood clotting  or  lymph  node in the neck .

Here is a  reviews about this man who single handedly   taught  the world

He  insisted  , caring  the sick and treating illness  is  more of a social science than medical one

We  have probably  not  learnt  a single lesson yet , from this master  teacher is a different story !

Avid listeners to Virchow in Berlin university

My  Virchowian thoughts

This man’s understanding of medicine was much . . .  much sharper than us –  100 years ago  , when  cardiology was practiced  with out  even an  ECG and   X-ray chest  . ( Is itn’t  true   today  we struggle with  loads of  3 dimensinal  gadolinium enhanced  cardiac MRI ! images )

Virchow’s  concepts  are most relevant in today’s world  , where the corporate and capitalist  culture  has  hijacked the  noble profession . Inhabitants of this planet are  threatened with eccentrically blown up  healthcare  system   where  the  development of   modern medical   modalities is completely out phase of with what  is required for the people .

We will pay a heavy penalty  if  this world  continues to witness   people die  for as  flimsy  reasons  like lack of oral re-hydration fluids   , while the other section of society is  marketing an exotic  mitochondrial DNA  slicers  for prolonging a  cancer victim  life by few months .

In a global society  where  social , economic  and environmental  responsibilities  and liabilities  are shared ,  it would be disastrous if  one country is simply not bothered about what is happening in other country.


WHO the world health organization came into being exactly for this reason .

We know  .  . . how it functions .  It is the  most abused united nation body . It has  neither the required  power nor the will to  tell the world  and insist them the  righteous  route for human health !

If the rich  are  not bothered about poor ,  it is certain  the rich will  also be eliminated  from the planet  for the same reasons  . . . it’s  just  a matter of time   !

Reference

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1305179/pdf/westjmed00323-0041.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Virchow

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One of the greatest medical sermon of our times  is   “Doctors must   constantly update their knowledge , Continuing medical  education is as sacred as their profession  !  If you are not updating your knowledge you cease to a doctor “

It is fashionable , but true  to state  modern medicine lacks humane  care . Modern medicine  is  challenged by a huge  technological ,  commercial  onslaught  where common sense takes  the back seat

Hence , doctors need to renew not only  their  academic competence   but also  their ethical  fitness  every  year !

Aggression  could be the other  name for  modern medical care . For every  new  invention , treatment   or guideline that  is  approved  an equal number  is shelved after few months or years  for safety reasons.

Bulk of  medical updates  for  current age physicians  is nothing , but asking   them to forget  all those wrong things that has been meticulously uploaded in their brains in the recent past  ( Recall the classical story of drug eluting stents )

If this is the  case . . . then  . . .  what for  we  are  updating ?   and  for what  we are  learning and forgetting  ?  and  . . . how frequent we need to forget ?  Of course  , there is a big chunk of   human tribe  who  can never master the art of forgetting ! Some mistakes are permanently etched in their terra byte hard disks .

Is there a place  for backdating and discontinuing  medical  education  ?

What  man- kind needs  at times of  medical  crisis  ,  is  not  the current  treatment  but the correct  treatment    .It is our duty  to  find  all those  trustworthy  drugs  & treatment modalities  that were  sent  to  the gallows by the modern medical forces   for various reasons !

If  some of  the gems in  medicine are  left behind in  past  “time domain”  ,  it is  mandatory  for us  to go  back in time and   catch it , adopt it and disseminate it !

Further ,  whenever  the  hyped   “medical updating sessions ”  turns out to be  synonymous with adding nonsense (It is  becoming all too common these days   !) we should resist   it by all means !

For many . . . Hippocrates and his medicine sounds dirty now !

If  only we back-date  our knowledge   .  .  .

Todays  youngsters  can learn a secret that liver enlargement can be diagnosed easily  with their  hands ,  without  waiting for a  CT scan report !

If only we back-date  our   knowledge  . . .

We can realise  Aminophylline can save so many  lives of cardiac  failure  , which  our newer inotropic agents are struggling to accomplish .

If only we  back- date  our knowledge  . . .

We can calmly manage  acute MI with lignocaine  even in a country side  .  Amiodarone unfairly replaced  this  efficient  anti  VT  molecule  for no academic reasons !

If only we back- dat our knowledge  . . .

We  can  advice simple non pharmacological intervention for  stage 1 HT   than prescribing the  glamorous  sartan molecules  form a  multinational  ARB shoppe.

If only we back- date our knowledge  . . .

We can  promptly recognise  cardiac failure  without  ordering  for the error prone   BNP . Back dating also  helps us to under stand  that post infarct angina is a  glaring sign  for presence of   viable myocardium  and prevent us from undertaking a  2000 $ PET  excursion !

If only we back- date our knowledge  . . .

We can  send  all our uncomplicated , asymptomatic   STEMI  patients ( in class 1 )  straight to  their  home rather than to cath lab  play grounds !

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We owe a lot  , to  our ancestors for making our  journey   smooth  and purposeful   in  our  pursuit ,   of   healing the   mankind  . It is because of their  meticulous  clinical acumen , passion  , dedication ,sacrifice we are enjoying  the fruits  of success .

Though there are thousands of them , one life that always fascinates  me is that of Harvey Cushing. His fame went  to dizzy heights  after his publication of  biography of William Osler .

A book every medical  professional must read and cherish especially the elite cardiologists !

I wonder  ,what  Harvey Cushing  ,  if alive would make  a difference  in the current  world of medical  science contaminated with commerce ,  hyped up technology ,  and  the near extinct bed side clinical skills.

Links to life of Harvey Cushing http://www.med.yale.edu/library/historical/cushing/peter.html

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                                            The science of medicine has evolved over 2000 years since the stone age days.It has  currently reached  a glorious era with  cutting edge  scientifc  technology .Today  one can map the entire human genetic blue print and intervene in the  disease  even before they manifest .One can   keep dying people alive for years with multi organ transplantation. Modern medicine has taught us  how human sufferings can be prevented and life can be prolonged (with or without purpose !)

The term conservative management  conveys two different

meanings for medical professionals.

conservativ-3

For other group of physicians

 

conservative-4

                         

                             Ever since the days of  application of leech over the  head for treating migraine and a crude knife abdominotomy for emergency exit of babies from  pregnant mothers in distress  , healer’s   mind has always  perceived “something  has to be done  urgently when some body suffers”  this sort of  reaction is probably  inherited  and is related to  the primitive flight or fight response .

This may be true in  some of the emergencies but it is untrue in many of the non emergencies.

                                          Unfortunately ,  our mind  finds it difficult   to differentiate  between these  situations . With constant exposure to dramatic medical breakthroughs , modern day physician is made to believe   “Some thing  is always  better than nothing  when illness strikes. Human body is a wonderful machine which has it’s own service station ! in the form autoregulation  and the meticulous  homeostatic mechanisms. Only if the disease process overwhelms,  it needs intervention.( Typical example:In the routine viral fever , you don’t adminster Acyclovir or other antiviral  for all of them !

                                        The problem with early aggressive approach is,  it fails to give an oppurtunity  for the body’s natural defence forces  to respond. Further , we will  never ever know how the administered treatment is going to fare vis a viz the natural response.( With due respects to RCTs).   While the field of medicine   has  so much  evolved , our thought process,  especially  the  aspect of clinical  reasoning  has always been lagging behind .It is now considered  as inferior or even unscientific  treatment  if  some one follows a conservative approach to a problem even if  it  provides   same outcome of that of an invasive or aggressive approach ( The classical example is PCI for chronic stable angina The COURAGE study).

The other major issue is the hazards of unwarrnted  invesitigations , drugs and procedures

Classical example:No one knows how much morbidity or mortality the routine Swan ganz catheter  caused when it was rampantly used for over two decades to monitor central venous pressure .It is estimated  that in modern medicine  there are at least  few  drugs or devices  in each speciality waiting  for the same fate  as that of  the swan ganz catheter.

No body knows when it will be exposed .Our EBM will take it’s own time . . .Till that time humanity need to suffer.

This thinking is not new  The concept  “First do no harm is over 2000 years old”

hippocrates-primum-non-nocere

Questions in search of answers

 Does law of conservation of energy applicable to human body and medicine  ? 

 Can we defy death with modern medicine ?

Final message

  • Conservative management is still  a great medical concept  in many situations  and one should not allow it to die  by the whims and fancies of the modern scientific forces.
  • Whatever you do on the patent’s body  do it ,  only if it is going to helpful for him /her. If you are unsure  Whether a given  treatment  is going to help or not ask this question to an expert .
  • The widely prevailing  dogma  of aggression is always better than  non aggression  has absolutely no evidence.
  • So approach a clinical issue disease by disease ,  individual by individual.
  • Now , in this era  high tech  medicine  ,  It is lot more tougher to choose a conservative path as the pressure to do more and more  looms  larger ! It is easier to follow the crowd  than a path of your own .
  • Always remember it needs a  stronger  mind to  act according to our conscience !

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