Bad Medicine

Bad Medicine : Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates

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Just how much good has medicine done over the years, and how much harm does it continue to do? The history of medicine begins with Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Yet until the invention of antibiotics in the 1930s doctors, in general, did their patients more harm than good. In this fascinating new look at the history of medicine, David Wootton argues that for more than 2300 years doctors have relied on their patients' misplaced faith in their ability to cure. Over and over again major discoveries which could save lives were met with professional resistance. And this is not just a phenomenon of the distant past. The first patient effectively treated with penicillin was in the 1880s; the second not until the 1940s. There was overwhelming evidence that smoking caused lung cancer in the 1950s; but it took thirty years for doctors to accept the claim that smoking was addictive. In the 1960s there was the notorious thalidomide tragedy, while today there is the ongoing problem of unnecessary operations, especially in the United States - and this all at a time of rapidly rising healthcare costs. As Wootton graphically illustrates, throughout history and right up to the present, bad medical practice has often been deeply entrenched and stubbornly resistant to evidence. This is a bold and challenging book - and the first general history of medicine to acknowledge the frequency with which doctors do more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 136 x 196 x 24mm | 458.14g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 32 halftones, 3 tables
  • 0192803557
  • 9780192803559
  • 1,368,407

Review quote

A sad but fascinating story of centuries of missed opportunities, unnecessary suffering and misplaced faith in outlandish remedies. Nick Rennison, Sunday Times Culture The historical catastrophe of medicine has never been so excitingly and stirringly told. Druin Birch, Times Literary Supplement David Wotton [creates] a genuinely thrilling adventure out of the abysmal failings of doctors over the past 2000 years. Druin Birch, Times Literary Supplement A very stimulating and thought-provoking book. Theodore Dalrymple, Sunday Telegraph Ought to be required reading for every first year medical student. British Medical Journal lucid, elegantly written and pleasingly slim book Will Cohu, Sunday Telegraphshow more

About David Wootton

David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York. He has published widely in early modern intellectual history, particularly on the history of political thought, and is a regular reviewer for the London Review of Books and the Times Literary more

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION: BAD MEDICINE/BETTER MEDICINE; PART ONE: THE HIPPOCRATIC TRADITION; 1. Hippocrates and Galen; 2. Ancient Anatomy; 3. The Canon; 4. The Senses; CONCLUSION TO PART I: THE PLACEBO EFFECT; PART TWO: REVOLUTION POSTPONED; 5. Vesalius and Dissection; 6. Harvey and Vivisection; 7. The Invisible World; CONCLUSION TO PART II: TRUST NOT THE PHYSICIAN; PART THREE: MODERN MEDICINE; 8. Counting; 9. Birth of the Clinic; 10. The Laboratory; 11. John Snow and Colera; 12. Puerperal Fever; 13. Joseph Lister and Antiseptic Surgery; 14. Alexander Fleming and Penicillin; CONCLUSION TO PART III: PROGRESS DELAYED; PART FOUR: AFTER CONTAGION; 15. Doll, Bradford Hill, and Lung Cancer; 16. Death Deferred; Conclusionshow more

Rating details

87 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 20% (17)
4 37% (32)
3 32% (28)
2 7% (6)
1 5% (4)
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