Clearly the science of medicine has progressed by leaps and bounds over the last twenty years--from computerized surgery to genetic modification. Yet medicine is more than just a science. It is also an art. As medical students complete their education, however, they may find that their training has been focused solely on the mechanics of diagnosis and treatment. While this scientific knowledge is fundamental to proper healthcare, it can overlook the importance of interacting with patients. In an attempt to refocus on how vital it is for doctors to consider their patients in full, Dr. Clifton K. Meador has written The Little Book of Doctors' Rules. It offers simple and concise suggestions to humanize the practice of medicine.
In this book, Dr. Meador draws on his nearly sixty-year medical career for nuggets of advice with both compassion and humor. Although there may not be a defined medical disease behind every physical symptom, Dr. Meador reminds us that the reason behind a symptom may be found if a doctor observes and listens carefully to a patient. He believes an effective physician treats a patient, not just a patient's disease.
The Little Book of Doctors' Rules offers insightful rules that address a host of topics, which include developing a rapport with patients, treating dementia, and prescribing drugs. Designed for any healthcare professional, these short rules are easily understood and (mostly) non-technical. Here is a small sampling of Dr. Meador's advice, from the sage and somber to the clever and sometimes controversial.
- While listening to a patient, do not do anything else. Just listen.
- Stop drug use in treatment whenever possible. If impossible, cease a patient's use of as many drugs as possible whenever possible.
- Just because you know a lot of physiology, biochemistry, and anatomy does not mean you know anything about people.
If all you listen to are symptoms, then all you will hear from your patients are symptoms.
In addition to his own rules, Dr. Meador has included advice offered by some of the past giants of medicine. It is no coincidence that their words echo the message of this book, which gets to the true center of the healing arts.