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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Daniel J. Brauner, MD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This is a book of essays about primary care medicine written by a prolific physician well known for his important contributions regarding humanistic aspects of patient care. Dr. Cassell uses historical and philosophical perspectives as well as his extensive clinical experience and patient vignettes to show the problems with current ideas about primary care and to lay the foundation for a new discipline based on patient-centered care.
Purpose: Dr. Cassell's purpose is to show how a novel notion of primary care, one which puts the patient at the center of the endeavor, will enable us to better care for our patients. He shows how this approach requires learning skills which have not traditionally been stressed in medical school or residency training programs but which must be learned if primary care is to evolve into the ascendant specialty he envisions. This is an extremely timely and important book in response to the rapidly changing nature of health care. With many of these changes formed by administrators looking at the bottom line, appreciating Dr. Cassell's perspective as a thoughtful practitioner becomes vitally important.
Audience: This book will be most useful for those in primary care medicine, but its messages are much more universal. Readers could include most health professionals caring for, learning to care for, or considering caring for patients. It would also be interesting and important to those who teach students to care for patients, as well as to those involved in health care policy.
Features: Dr. Cassell uses a broad array of references from historical treatises on medicine to current physician thinkers and from early twentieth century philosophers to those of modern-day. It is well referenced and indexed.
Assessment: I heartily recommend this book. Dr. Cassell's insights into caring for patients in the late twentieth century are sharp and cogent. His well reasoned plan for change should form the nucleus of a revolution in how we care for patients.