Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Doctors Patients and Diseases

  • The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: But to what end?

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland Different variants of the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath swear to a virtuous life, honoring their patients and respecting their confidences, but not specifically promising to tell them the truth! Until recent decades it was not uncommon for doctors to avoid telling their patients specifically what was wrong, if serious, in order to avoid…

  • Forty years a watchdog: Sidney Wolfe, M.D.

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Somebody has to look out for the people who are being manipulated by hospitals, doctors, insurance and drug companies.”– Sidney Wolfe, MD, 1993 Sidney Wolfe, MD, (1937–2024) was the co-founder in 1971 of the Health Research Group (HRG), a consumer and health advocacy lobbying organization. After earning his medical degree from what…

  • Passing sentence 

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece  The man facing me across the desk is outwardly calm. He gives an innocent enough history of a vague pain in his back which eventually led his family physician to send him for a chest film. Something did not look right, and a computed lung scan followed. This was the reason for…

  • Room 460

    Megan RizerGainesville, Florida, United States Every time I walked by Mr. L’s hospital room, I heard the Game Show Network blasting on television. The Price is Right, Press Your Luck, Wheel of Fortune—some rerun of an old game show was always on. I had been helping to take care of him for several weeks, rounding…

  • The Bancroft doctors: Edward, Daniel, and Nathaniel

    Jonathan DavidsonDurham, North Carolina, United States Quercitin is a flavonoid compound derived from quercitron, found in many plants and vegetables. It possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other effects and has possible therapeutic value.1 Quercitin not only has medicinal properties, but for almost 100 years was the chief coloring agent used in the textile and printing industry.…

  • The root of all problems

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece Several years ago, I had a neighbor in his eighties who was also my patient. Whenever the need arose I would visit him at home after office hours, and we would have an informal chat as his children were friends of mine from our school years. One evening, he asked me to…

  • Healing: A word that connects or separates patients from their doctors

    Fergus ShanahanCork, Ireland “He is cured by faith who is sick of fate.”James Joyce (Finnegans Wake, 482)1 In Brian Friel’s play Faith Healer, Francis “Frank” Hardy has self-doubts.2 Is his power to heal diminishing? Is it real, autosuggestion, or chance? Does it require faith? People who come to see Frank are desperate, but whether they…

  • Physic

    JMS PearceHull, England Amongst the General Medical Council records of 300 medical specialties hides “physician”, a word we all use with but little thought about its origins. Samuel Johnson defined physician as one who professes the art of healing.1 He also included physician as A man skilled in any profession; or Any able or learned…

  • Healing beyond the sterile chamber

    Brody FoglemanSpartanburg, South Carolina, United States A senior resident once shared with me: “Patients don’t heal in the hospital; they get sicker. Our goal is to stabilize, medically optimize, and discharge.” Though I was surprised by such a statement, it became truer the more patients I encountered as a medical student.  A patient admitted, a…

  • Endurance

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece One of the things we learn in medicine, not from books but from the daily encounters with patients over the years, and which never stops pleasantly surprising us, is man’s endurance in all kinds of adversity and hardship, including serious health problems. No diagnostic test, biological marker or imaging modality, however…