Author Topic: Take two of these...  (Read 3491 times)

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Offline Ian

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Take two of these...
« on: November 23, 2014, 09:56:40 am »
 Take two of these and come back in a week
Health care is a subject close to all of our minds. In fact, it's probably fair to say it trumps climate change, politics, Policing, religion, TV, Education, Christmas and even Llandudno's Xmas lights in terms of importance. And it's not hard to see why.

Think about a hospital.  None of us really likes the idea of a hospital, but probably places it one stage higher up the ladder of 'not terribly good places to spend a few days' than a dentist.  But many of us will start our lives in a hospital, spend at least some time during our lives in one and - ultimately - many will end our lives there (if you're wondering why the depressing timbre of this blog, it hasn't really stopped raining for five days...).

But however much we dislike hospitals, ultimately we need them, and it's this very ambivalence towards the medical profession in general that makes the whole concept of health care so interesting.

We depend on our GP, but most GPs don't have any idea what's wrong with the majority of patients when they present with symptoms.  Which is why some refer you to the local hospital quicker than you can say 'polyclinic' (which always sounds suspiciously like a Vet's place). Good GPs are worth their weight in Tesco vouchers, but they're not always easy to find.   So what makes a good GP?

The training for becoming a Doctor is two-fold, with the first part being essentially a memory test. People with excellent memory capacity and recall often fly through that part of the training.  But there's a second part; using the information you've learnt.  And that's where things become interesting.

Decent GPs don't rush to diagnose, they examine their patient carefully and rigorously, they listen to the history and they employ all their knowledge to arrive at the highest probability outcome. In other words, they guess, but in a highly informed way. It's how they tell a brain tumour from 'flu, or indigestion from stomach cancer. And there are those, of course, who couldn't diagnose multiple fractures in an inquisition victim.  Fortunately, they're in a small minority.

But the one characteristic of all the medical professions is their language. Medical terminology is complex, coded and arcane and stems from the origins of the profession many hundreds of years ago when it was realised that if everyone could understand what the Doctors were saying, then it wouldn't be a mystery.  Lawyers employ a similar, almost secret language for much the same reason: to cloak the practitioners of their craft in an aura of mystery and wonder.  The origins of all this lie in religion, where acolytes are required to learn the 'mysteries' and 'secrets' of their faith before being granted admission to the inner sanctum.  Shared knowledge of this sort also strengthens bonds between practitioners, which is why it's so hard to sue a lawyer.  But now things are changing. The Government's insistence on decent health care provision at the primary level is exerting unwelcome pressure on GPs and the burgeoning internet makes a lot of medical information widely available, although it's still much safer to talk to your GP.   However, we here at blog Central follow two blogs with interest:


both of which provide excellent reading. However, one recent blogger is complaining about obfuscation and - writing about the word 'polysystems' - he remarks "People who coin new words without obvious meanings do so with a purpose. The purpose is to bamboozle and obfuscate or even confuse and conceal."  Does he, one wonders, appreciate the irony?
Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.  ― Michel de Montaigne

Si hoc legere scis, nimis eruditionis habes.