Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe

  • 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…

  • Unequal encounter: An initiation

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland In October 1961, I started at Guy’s Hospital Medical School in London for three years of clinical training. I was at the very bottom of the clinical hierarchy and put straight onto a surgical ward as a first-year ward clerk responsible for clerking admissions, junior to the third-year senior dressers on the…

  • Musings from my first, on doctor-patient relationships

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland It was my very first patient. I had started my clinical training at Guy’s Hospital medical school in 1961 in London by being put straight onto a surgical ward. The patient was a Bermondsey Cockney dock worker who had a benign tumour to be removed—a neurofibroma. I examined him and read it…

  • Last rites x2

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland, United Kingdom In the late 1960s, I was non-resident neurology house physician in a hospital in central London when we admitted a prominent citizen as a private patient. He was suffering from a catastrophic cerebral hemorrhage—he was moribund, but the decision was taken to perform cerebral angiography (it was before the days…

  • “Brace, brace, brace!”—“Are we all going to die?”

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland, United Kingdom Flying to and from Scotland as an airline passenger years ago sometimes involved small aircraft. The smallest from Edinburgh to Belfast at one time was so small that a hostess got on at departure, wriggled between the passengers handing out packages, and then squirmed back and disembarked. Perfectly proper, yet…

  • For debate: Presents from patients

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland It was Christmas Day in Guy’s Hospital, London. Two months into my first house-physician post, I was completing a morning round with the staff nurse on my female ward. At the far end of the open ward was a bed with closed curtains. A small face peered round them with increasing frequency…

  • Novice doctor at Guy’s Hospital in 1964

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland, United Kingdom Initiation My initiation as a novice doctor at Guy’s Hospital, London (Fig 1) was as junior partner to the legendary King of Surgery and Queen of Nursing. It was 1964. Clinical students in London medical schools with first degrees at Cambridge University went back there for their final exams, predominantly…

  • Medical and other memories of the Cold War and its Iron Curtain

    Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe Dundee, Scotland, UK In 1946, Winston Churchill named the political barrier appearing between the Soviet bloc and the West the “Iron Curtain.” It lasted until 1991. I met or crossed it several times. The first time was around 1950. The family flew a war-surplus box-kite on Parliament Hill, overlooking Hampstead, London. The reel broke.…

  • Mithridates, “deadly poison” in history, and a classic misdiagnosis

    Hugh Tunstall-PedoeDundee, Scotland Mithridates VI of Pontus (136-63 BC), a formidable enemy of the Roman Empire, was vanquished after several wars. Intrigue and treachery in pursuit of power were then commonplace. Following the poisoning of his uncle, he usurped, imprisoned, or murdered his mother and other relatives, and used knowledge of poisons for attack and…