Author: Thuraiappah, Daniel M
Date published: January 27, 2012
This compendium of anecdotes of stories of patients gathered over a period of 40 years of clinical practice is a treasure trove of experience. One stands to marvel at the initiatives which by reason of wisdom have driven man to unravel the mysteries of medicine in outreach places by rudimentary reasoning. The author has threaded the various case histories, no doubt encountered at different periods of his practice, into a gentle continuity by cataloguing them under 24 headings spread over 334 pages. The humour which is seen on hindsight and which may not have been evident at the time, is woven cleverly into the fabric of the tales. This type of recapping and retelling of such a rich storehouse of clinical occurrences is reminiscent of teaching by apprenticeship of old, methods which have become rare since the 20th century. It is in stark contrast to current instant methods of teaching to instil affective learning skills and psychomotor skills.
The case histories have been related in an educational manner, so much so that teachers in family medicine and both undergraduate and postgraduate students will be enriched in a vicarious manner. The skilfulness in incorporating current values into the 40 years of case histories makes the experience of reading the tales in a manner in which one could identify oneself with the author's experience and thereby "derive pleasure, insight and wisdom as well" as stated in the "Foreword".
Each case history has a postscript of reflection on the case to conclude with the "Lesson Learnt". The book also conveys various aspects of communication, consultations, counselling skills, professionalism, ethics and an insight into the laws of that time. The tales further reveal the expectations of the patients, medical colleagues, the public and the politicians and the methods used by the author to come to terms in a professional manner and gain the respect of the patients at the same time. The period during which the author practised were the glorious times of the solo general practitioner who earned the respect of patients and was held in high regard. However, there was a heavy price to pay.
The publication is well laid out with several examples of notes to apply some of the skills used by the author. It is also well indexed for easy reference.
The author has left a difficult legacy to follow and a great inspiration to young registrars and student family physicians. By providing a yardstick, aspiring general practitioners will find a great example in Dr John Murtagh, the scribe and author of "Cautionary Tales-Authentic Case Histories from Medical Practice"; a book, well worth owning.
About the book
Title: Cautionary Tales - Authentic Case Histories from Medical Practice, Second Edition
Author: Murtagh, John AM
Emeritus Professor, School of Primary Health Care, Monash, Professorial Fellow, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Adjuct Clinical Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Freemantle, WA, Guest Professor, Peking University of Health Science Centre, Beijing
Published by: McGraw Hill
Reviewed by: Assoc. Prof. Datuk Dr. Daniel M. Thuraiappah Family Medicine Deoartment, MAHSA University College, Kuala Lumpur, Chairman of Council, Academy of Family Phsyicians Malaysia