Troubador Medical Paradoxes

Released: 16/01/2019

eISBN: 9780995541511

Format: eBook

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Medical Paradoxes

Contradictions in Modern Medicine


Medicine is not a precise science. There are always several options to manage and cure a disease. The best help for the treating doctor comes from the patient. The better informed the patient is, the more helpful this is to the physician. 

The patient should be conscious of the paradoxes his physician has to face treating each individual case. A successful patient/physician partnership is essential for the successful treatment and cure of the disease.  

The essential rules of the medical ethics remain constant since the beginning of history… first do no harm (Hippocrates). 

Medicine advances every day; millions of people remain unaware of such changes. In an effort to inform of such changes properly, especially those connected with preventive medicine, is a key factor in the global impact of medicine. 

Many diseases, like leprosy, are still largely feared on an exaggerated basis; it is important that the general public is properly informed. Leprosy is a curable disease that no longer requires isolation (leprosaria); it is not contagious whilst being treated. 

It is essential that the general public understands the basis of medicine, and books dedicated to this purpose should be read by young students as a part of their humanistic education.

I chose the ebook "Medical Paradoxes" by Francisco Kerdel-Vegas because I was intrigued by the subtitle "Contradictions in Modern Medicine" and by the painting on the cover, which depicts the transplant of the leg of a black slave to a white amputee patient performed by twin doctors Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian. I found the book very interesting and enjoyed that the author raised difficult questions and explored ethical dilemmas in his paradoxes but did not force his own opinion or solutions on the reader. The book was originally published in Spanish and a fluid translation in English is provided by Kate Auckland.

This ebook has several preliminary chapters: foreword, introduction, prologue, preface and preliminary considerations. The longest of these serves to set in context the paradoxes and covers areas including: the history and significance of medicine, the right to health, human dignity, the Hippocratic oath etc. The main part of the book is dedicated to the 100 paradoxes, most of them pit two conflicting areas against each other. Some paradoxes fit a range of overarching themes which include: ethics, use of resources, euthanasia, different medical approaches (clinical, molecular, laboratory, pharmaceutical), duty of States and so on. This is followed by an epilogue, a chapter on where medicine is going, a chapter on current challenges in medicine, references and wider reading. It is the seminal work of an illustrious career which has spanned several decades.

I enjoyed the variety of issues presented, some were more familiar to me such as the conflicting health information regarding the consumption of alcohol or the pressures on health systems of a growing elderly population. Others were completely new such those centred on particular medical conditions or treatment approaches. Each paradox is only a few pages long, but the author manages to encapsulate the key issues, the writing is clear with any medical terms clearly explained. Whilst this book is aimed at medical students it requires no prior knowledge of medicine or science, so would appeal to a broader range of readers. A strong motif throughout the book is the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, as well as informing readers and thus making them better doctors (or patients) is also fosters an understanding of the other party’s concerns and motivations. Sensitivity to these conflicting needs makes better humanists of everyone.

by Bella Jones

An interesting collection of around 100 paradoxes of contradictions that exist within medicine. The writing is clear and easy to follow, and would highly recommend this for anyone that has an interest in medicine, history and how it affects us still today.

by Kaye

Francisco Kerdel-Vegas

Dermatologist, academic, ambassador. Son of Oswaldo Kerdel and Sofia Vegas, born in Caracas. He graduated in Medical Surgery from the Central University of Venezuela in 1951 and was dermatology resident at the Massachusetts General hospital (Harvard Medical School) 1951 - 1952, and at the Skin & Cancer Unit at New York University, 1952 - 1954, Master of Science from New York University, 1954.

He then returned to Caracas where he began his general medical practice and his work in the Faculty of Medicine at The Central University of Venezuela. He was a member of Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK from 1966-1967.

He became the founding Academic Vice Chancellor of Simón Bolívar University in 1968.

He was loaned to diplomacy between 1987 and 1999: Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1987 -1992), to UNESCO in Paris (1994 - 1999), and Venezuelan Ambassador to France (1995 - 1999).

He has published over one hundred works and various books and is affiliated to universities and medical organisations the world over; Visiting Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University in New York, at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and at the University of London, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia.

He is Honorary Member of National Academies of Medicine all over the world. His work has been recognised internationally with a number of awards.

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