Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Most Informative Book on Past, Present, & Future Medical Advances

Physician: How Science Transformed the Art of Medicine
Author: Rajeev Kurapati, MD
Publisher: River Grove Press, Austin, TX, 2018

                                                                     


A Most Informative Book on Past, Present, & Future Medical Advances
I have always been fascinated by the medical profession. Perhaps it was that my parents always considered “doctors” to be like gods, never to be challenged or disobeyed in any way. Or perhaps it was that had I done better in the pure sciences, I would have headed down that route. And thus, I came to review numerous books on Medicine, and most recently, Dr. Rajeev’s Kurapati’s Physician: How Science Transformed the Art of Medicine.
Usually I save my recommendations for the end of my review but in this case, I want to tell you up front: This book should be required reading for a) anyone training to be a professional that involves “medicine”, b) anyone already so involved, and c) anyone that goes to a doctor when they need to. Having said that, here’s the ‘why’ behind that.
The book is a most informative journey through the history of ‘medicine’ with the purpose of giving us a well-constructed, and to a certain extent, a most enlightening and even entertaining, chronicle of how we got to what the medical profession is today.  It then takes us beyond that to where we are most likely to be tomorrow and beyond.
The journey starts with how medicine was being practiced by the ‘ancients’ and the adventure begins. While Kurapati teaches us a lot about the evolution of the profession, he takes care to share with as much about the practitioners themselves, and to a certain extent, us, the people they practice on. He hints at what each one feels and thinks, why, and the impact those feelings and thoughts have on all of us.  I love the oh-so-honest paragraph on death that states,
The doctor, disregarding the true feeling of his or her patient, carries on the routine by prescribing more medications and offering more tests – despite being well aware of the inevitable. And the visitors insist on treating him as if he were merely sick instead of dying. The entire act of dying becomes a charade, each party delicately dancing around the truth at hand. The person who is sick can see through the act as visits start to feel more like obligations as opposed to support.
The author shares both the successes and the shortcomings of medicine and doctors (e.g. how often they disagree on a diagnosis). Early in the book he deals thoroughly with a doctor’s inability to answer the patient’s “Why is this happening to ME?” question. In an interesting interview with a very experienced hospital chaplain, we are introduced to the striking idea that healing can sometimes occur without a cure or even be found in death.  From there he takes us into the early practitioners – the “philosophers” and then “priest-physicians” and ultimately, how the two professions separated.
The book is filled with dozens of fascinating facts including how the Rx symbol ended up being used by doctors; the questioning of long-accepted theories (e.g. such as those of Galen); the most interesting ‘politically correct’ discovery of the stethoscope; the air purification of surgery rooms; the requirement of pre-testing of drugs; the average improvement of life expectancy per year over the last 200 years; and more.
One theme in the book is clearly the impact of religion on medicine (really how it slowed its progress) before mathematics and other sciences took over as the lead influencers. There’s also a great explanation of how doctors learn to stay calm (perhaps too much so) in the midst of a storm as well as be involved and detached at the same time. Accounts like the one of the evolution of CPR and defibrillation machines are fascinating.
The use of unique quotations in the book is worth the price you’ll pay and will give you lots to think about.  Here is a small sampling: “Life is. . . the totality of functions which resists death.” (Xavier Bichat); “Medicine, no doubt, has helped us a lot to cure so many diseases, but death still remains an incurable one!” (Mahek Bassi).
Kurapati shows us how our perception of death has changed, moving from a natural process to something preventable. But does a doctor’s role as a healer end the moment it is determined that there is no chance of a cure?
The author also gets into the impact that statistics, rising costs, and the involvement of third-party insurers play in the practice of medicine.
The book gave me a much greater appreciation of what my own physician has to consider each and every time someone like me walks into her office. (That could be up to 40 times each day she works.)  Also, the sections on EMR (electronic medical records) and “medical surgical robots” are eye-openers.
The book ends with a section for Kurapati’s fellow and future colleagues which provides us (the patients) with a heads up on what to expect and maybe, demand.
In summary, circle back to my ‘recommendation’ at the start of the review. Clearly, this is the most informative book on the history and future of medical advances I have come across.  Congratulations to Rajeev.


·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, April 3, 2017, www.accordconsulting.com

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