Monday, October 01, 2018

Laws of Medicine

Laws of Medicine is a short work that distills some of the important "laws" of medicine. Medical care as we know it is a very recent phenomenon, only existing in the last century or so. Medicine had to be "cleansed" of the old "bad" ways (like bloodletting) The intermediate "do nothing" period helped pave the way to medicine as we know it. However, properly practicing medicine requires much more than simply understanding the book learning. That is where the "laws" come in. Every person is a little bit different. A study that showed great results with one population may not have any impact on a different group. Understanding the entire person can help provide insights into possible issues. (He gave an example of learning that a man was a drug user providing a risk factor to test for HIV.) Tests are rarely 100% accurate. If we test everybody for a rare condition, we are likely to get more false positives than true positives. However, narrowing down the population to a more susceptible group can get better results. On the other end, a study that only seems to help a single person may actually show a promising cure for people that match that person's characteristics. However, even the most carefully designed studies are subject to human bias. Even the naming of a procedure can influence its popularity even if the data is hidden. A great doctor has the knowledge and the intuition needed to look at the hidden clues. Alas, as medicine becomes more mechanized, we are becoming more reliant on "tests" at the expense of truly resolving issues.

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