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Understanding the adverse effects of drugs on patients


Involving the patient in his diagnosis
Harold Lambert Physician
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I've involved the patient in... you know, saying, 'Can we come in, you know, what do you think about this, is the pain getting better?' and sort of batting around but not in a more formal- but they can teach you about, about how to I remember a chap with tetanus because I used to look after the ventilators before the intensive care phase started- and he was a young footballer. He was, thank goodness, basically a very healthy chap. He was on a ventilator for 17 days and he didn't even get a chest infection. We were very proud. I mean, we thought it was... it was marvellous actually, but it was probably mainly because he was young and healthy. So we showed him in a clinical meeting and somebody, as you know, after the first bit of time he was conscious or nearly conscious but ventilated, but couldn't talk and he said... they said, one of the doctors wanted to know how he felt about this. 'What did you feel about there was all this going on and you, you couldn't say?' He said, 'Well', he was quite a jokey chap, he said this all in front of the clinical meeting, he said, 'Well, what happened is Dr Lambert', I don't think I was a professor then, 'used to come in every morning and he used to rub his stethoscope on his white coat' it was winter 'and he'd listen to me all over and we'd have, he'd talk about it in discussion, and one day he came in and he said, 'That valve's making a funny noise', and I thought, that valve, that's my life. And, and it was a wonderful lesson, wonderful lesson to everybody. You'd remember that, wouldn't you? And that kind of thing can come out very well, I think.

[Q] Yes, yes, yes.

British doctor Harold Lambert (1926-2017) spent his career tackling infectious diseases, helping in the development of pyrazinamide as an effective treatment for tuberculosis. He also published work on the rational use of antibiotics and was a trustee and medical advisor for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Listeners: Roger Higgs

Roger Higgs was an inner city GP for 30 years in south London, UK, and is Emeritus Professor of General Practice at Kings College London, where he set up the department.

He gained scholarships in classics at Cambridge but changed to medicine after a period of voluntary work in Kenya in 1962. He was Harold Lambert's registrar for 18 months in the early 1970s, the most influential and exciting episode in his hospital training. He set up his own practice in 1975. He helped to establish medical ethics as a practical and academic subject through teaching, writing and broadcasting, and jointly set up the 'Journal of Medical Ethics' in 1975.

His other work included studies in whole person assessment and narrative in general practice and development work in primary medical care: innovations here included intermediate care centres, primary care assessment in accident and emergency departments, teaching internal medicine in general practice and establishing counselling services in medicine.

He was made MBE in 1987 for this development work and now combines bioethics governance, teaching and writing with an arts based retirement.

Tags: tetanus, footballer, ventilator, infection, valve, life

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008