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Putting together the reductionist and the imaginative in medicine


Getting the balance right between science and patient knowledge
Harold Lambert Physician
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[Q] This balance between the science and, and the more, and the approach to the patient, put it that way, is very hard to teach. How... do you have any feelings about how you get across to the next generation how to use, use evidence and how to...?

Yeah. I... I actually do I think that's, that's an area in which the example as a role model, as they say is incredibly important and probably much more important than any overt teaching and, you know. I mentioned in the earlier part of this video how I learnt for good and ill as a student at UCH and I do remember that pretty vividly actually and I think this business... I mean you obviously can't get it right and doctors obviously do come, get to odds with patient, at odds with patients and patients often feel they haven't been considered properly. But I think you could teach more about the rather silent things like manners and civility and asking permission about things. I think that could be taught, but the general way of going about it, I think, is probably best done by people showing how they do it.

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: manners, civility, permission, science, interacting with patients

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008