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Getting the balance right between science and patient knowledge


Understanding the adverse effects of drugs on patients
Harold Lambert Physician
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Where patients could come in much more, is adverse effects of drugs. Because we know all the bad ones but, again, this, this word 'minor', I mean, somebody having a drug for a not very lifesaving situation and getting some awful itch or diarrhoea or sore mouth is not a trivial thing, is it really. And it's all in the lists of what drugs can do, but I think it's very useful to hear from patients in what way they have come to harm from the drugs as well as to the good; apart from, you know, major things like giving old people too many drugs and making them faint and all that sort of clear things.

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: drugs, minor, diarrhoea, itch, harm

Duration: 42 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008