Sherwin B. Nuland is Clinical Professor of Surgery and a Fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale. He is the author of How We Die, which won the National Book Award in 1994, and Lost in America. (December 2005)

Top Doc

Late on a Friday afternoon in May 1984, seventy-five-year-old Betsey Whitney, the last of the three Cushing sisters whose photos had appeared on so many society pages earlier in the century, sat in rapt attention as her father’s many contributions to medical science were described to an audience of about …

Killing Cures

Major steps in scientific progress are sometimes followed closely by outbursts of foolishness. New discoveries have a way of exciting the imagination of the well-meaning and misguided, who see theoretical potentialities in new knowledge that may prove impossible to attain. On occasion, the seemingly imminent is later shown to be …

Getting in Nature’s Way

Scientifically advanced nations, most notably the US, seem on the verge of a new situation in which the traditional goals of doctors and others concerned with health care will be radically altered. The changes will be the result of increased understanding of the basic molecular mechanisms shared by all living …

Whoops!

Among the huge number of men and women practicing medicine during the past century, only a few have been able to write well about their profession for the general reader. Of the most accomplished among them, it can be said that their words are a natural extension of their healing.

‘A Very Wide and Deep Dissection’

None of the physicians in attendance at the April 20, 1894, meeting of the Clinical Society of Maryland doubted that the medical paper about to be presented would be the highlight of the day. In fact, some in the auditorium had traveled long distances to Baltimore just to hear it, …

The Pill of Pills

“This man was addicted to moanin’, Confusion, edema and groanin’, Intestinal rushes, Great tricolored blushes, And died from too much serotonin.” As a third-year medical student forty years ago, I gratefully used this limerick to help me remember the signs and symptoms exhibited by patients …