Handle With Care

From Proto Mag:

Abraham The word care, in a medical sense, implies the many things physicians do for patients, among them: ordering tests, writing prescriptions, performing surgery. Or perhaps used to do. Abraham Verghese, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, thinks doctors have distanced themselves from the word’s basic definition: to show empathy and compassion. “The patient in the bed is merely an icon for the real patient, who exists in the computer,” Verghese has lamented.

At the center of Verghese’s first work of fiction, Cutting for Stone (Knopf, February 2009), is compassion shown and withheld—between physicians and patients, and physicians and their families. In Addis Ababa in the 1950s, twins Marion and Shiva are born to Indian nun Sister Mary Joseph Praise and British surgeon Thomas Stone. When Praise dies giving birth, Stone abandons the twins, who are raised—and eagerly inducted into medical careers—by married doctors. Marion leaves Ethiopia to complete his residency in the Bronx. On a visit to a Boston teaching hospital, he sits in on a morbidity and mortality conference (an examination of cases gone wrong) and sets eyes on his father for the first time.

More here. (Note: Thanks to Sughra Raza)

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