Posted by: Tony Shannon | May 10, 2019

Can Medicine Be Cured?

When moving at pace through a local bookshop in recent weeks, a title caught my eye..

What a title, what a question, I couldn’t ignore it

This is a hard hitting book, that pulls few /no punches in its scrutiny and examination of the medical profession in the early 21st Century.

As a medical professional myself, this could/should have been uncomfortable reading and yet I couldn’t help but agree with the main thrust of the argument herein.

It reminds me of a book about Eisenhower and his efforts to battle the Military Industrial complex in the latter part of his distinguished career from army general to US president.

So too is (Doctor) O’Mahony railing against the Medical Industrial complex that has sprung up in recent decades.

While his look back at the past of medical practice (which resonates as my own grandfathers were both GPs in rural Ireland of which he refers to in part) may be somewhat rose tinted, I believe this key point is a valid one.

That is something along that lines that the main value in medical science is in doing the basics well, midwifery for childbirth, vaccinations to prevent disease, trauma care to limit disability etc.

He challenges the status quo in modern medicine with its research and publication industry (and related publication bias) which rewards medical careers for publishing tons of papers often with little or no real clinical value as such.
He challenges the cancer research industry as absorbing much monies with relatively little return as well as the entire pharmaceutical sector, part of the medical industrial complex that is best understood as an vested interest with a primary focus on generating profit, lets call it what it is please.

If that isn’t uncomfortable enough reading he also calls out those medical professionals who effectively invent a disease so as to generate a related patient population, waiting list, funding etc etc, which if harsh+ has at least a grain of truth in it, at least in part, I believe.

With regard to the medical information industry, which I know well, he rightly challenges the move towards data capture for data captures sake which we know impacts the doctor-patient relationship at the frontline, so again I wouldn’t argue particularly with that point either.

While this book doesn’t particularly offer a lot of hope that the medical profession will have the insight to see its own conflicted role within the medical industrial complex that 21st Century medicine has become, it does at least provide a wake up call to those of us who believe in the essential need for medical leadership at this time. Leadership meaning “do the right thing” more than just “doing things right”.

So I welcome this soul searching book and if you are/know a medical professional I would encourage you to raise awareness of this most thought provoking and very timely writing.

Thank you Dr O’Mahony


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