Lessons in Mortality: Doctors and Patients Struggling Together

Overview

It doesn?t take a trip to the doctor to know that the bond between physicians and patients isn?t what it used to be. Specialization, rising costs, managed care, the insurance industry, the shadow of litigation?so many factors have changed what was once a traditional relationship grounded in respect and caring. 
            In light of the altered climate in health care, this thoughtful book deals with the way that ...

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Overview

It doesn’t take a trip to the doctor to know that the bond between physicians and patients isn’t what it used to be. Specialization, rising costs, managed care, the insurance industry, the shadow of litigation—so many factors have changed what was once a traditional relationship grounded in respect and caring. 
            In light of the altered climate in health care, this thoughtful book deals with the way that today’s doctors and patients view themselves and one another. Allen Weisse has observed the changing medical scene during half a century of treating patients and training future physicians, and he writes frankly here about how doctors and patients have come to deal with illness in the twenty-first century. 
Weisse first recalls his own brush with death as a young man diagnosed with testicular cancer—a time when one thinks of God and Death and little else. He then shares true stories of how different people have dealt with cancer, heart disease, stroke, infectious disease, AIDS, and other dire diagnoses—narratives enhanced by professional savvy and enriched by the kind of empathy that the survivor of such a calamity can provide.
Drawing from a storehouse of experiences shared by colleagues, patients, and friends, Weisse writes with passion, conviction, and clarity to encourage a renewal of the openness and trust that seem to be lacking in today’s doctor-patient relationships. These are accounts both uplifting and disturbing—some sad, others tinged with humor—intended to make doctors and patients alike come to a fuller realization that we are all together in this delicate but crucial business of staying alive.
            While not quite foreseeing a return to the Norman Rockwell image of the family physician, Weisse urges the kind of care and compassion that patients often feel is lacking from their doctors, and he reassures victims of seemingly hopeless conditions that, despite the obstacles they often face, there are still health care professionals who truly have their patients’ welfare foremost in mind. Lessons in Mortality is just what the doctor ordered for a health care system in crisis: an honest look at the medical profession that encourages greater understanding on the part of both physicians and patients, reminding us that what we most need is one another.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Only a master physician who is also a gifted storyteller could bring us such profound insights into the crucial relationship between doctor and patient. We owe Dr. Weisse our gratitude for the honesty and wisdom in this fascinating contribution to our understanding of the human condition.”—Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., author of How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter

“In Lessons in Mortality, Allen Weisse demonstrates that he is one of the outstanding medical storytellers of our time. These poignant, beautifully written vignettes have much to say about modern medicine and the doctor-patient relationship.  Professional and general readers alike will find them engaging and instructive.”—Kenneth M. Ludmerer, M.D., author of Time to Heal and Learning to Heal

“The issues and conflicts that arise in medicine today are often poignantly illustrated in this engrossing anecdotal collection from Weisse’s years as a physician. He begins by sharing a journal he kept during his own battle with testicular cancer at the age of 25. . . . Offering brief episodes from the lives of colleagues, patients, and friends, Weisse illuminates the ongoing dynamic between physician and patient. . . . Readers of medical histories will enjoy these compelling personal narratives.”—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
The issues and conflicts that arise in medicine today are often poignantly illustrated in this engrossing anecdotal collection from Weisse's years as a physician. He begins by sharing a journal he kept during his own battle with testicular cancer at the age of 25. This close call with death led Weisse (Heart to Heart: The Twentieth Century Battle Against Coronary Disease) to an understanding of both seriously ill people and the doctors who try to diagnose and treat their conditions. Offering brief episodes from the lives of colleagues, patients and friends, Weisse illuminates the ongoing dynamic between physician and patient. "The Case of the Baffling Boy" tells of a five-year-old whose psychologically damaged mother deliberately tries to make her son appear to have kidney disease by tampering with his urine samples. "Victims All" is an account of a lawsuit brought by a woman dying of breast cancer against the physicians who, she alleges, did not diagnose her condition early enough; Weisse presents both sides of this heartrending piece in a nonjudgmental, empathetic manner. Readers of medical histories will enjoy these compelling personal narratives. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The relationship between physician and patient isn't what it used to be. Such is the premise of Weisse's (medicine, emeritus, New Jersey Medical Sch.; Heart to Heart: The Twentieth Century Battle Against Cardiac Disease, An Oral History) new book. Weisse illuminates the changes that have occurred over the last 50 years in the level of trust and openness shared by physicians and their patients. Through a series of vignettes, he hopes to inspire a renewed understanding, respect, and, consequently, an improved relationship between the two. Some stories tell of physicians whose patients surprised, exasperated, or uplifted them. Others highlight the personal attributes of physicians or patients who saw others through their struggles with illness. While the stories are touching, there is no satisfying sense upon finishing the book that one has gathered what the author hoped to impart. A summary or final notes chapter might have been helpful. However, the book, which draws on Weisse's own experience being diagnosed with testicular cancer as a young man, is nicely crafted and stimulating. Recommended for public and consumer health libraries.-Beth Hill, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826216663
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Allen B. Weisse joined the faculty of the Seton Hall College of Medicine (now the New Jersey Medical School) in 1963. He remained there until recently retiring as Professor of Medicine. Although he no longer sees patients, he continues his work in medical history and related subjects. He is the author of several books, including Heart to Heart: The Twentieth Century Battle against Cardiac Disease, An Oral History. He lives in Springfield, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Lance Armstrong and me 6
3 The crock 36
4 Devotion 43
5 The iron man 46
6 Waste 55
7 Marking time at Hillcrest home 58
8 The case of the baffling boy : chapter one 64
9 Eddy 72
10 Smart ass 77
11 Victims all 81
12 The end of the road 101
13 Modern medicine 111
14 The survivor 115
15 A man what am 122
16 Other faces of AIDS 128
17 On dying with dignity - and a diagnosis 140
18 The gift 151
19 Time (overdue) for a change 159
20 Stroke 166
21 A letter 178
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