Letter: Realities of surgery
Monday 23 August 1999
His last paragraph in particular summarises the problem, not just for cardiac surgery but also for many other aspects of child medicine, including my own area of paediatric oncology. Expectations have become too high, and it seems no one can die without it being automatically someone's fault.
As he points out, in the medical profession we must take some blame for raising expectations too high. Often because of the repeated distress when families are told of their child's life-threatening illness, doctors tend to soften the message, and offer greater optimism than perhaps is appropriate.
I have been privileged to work in an era over the last 30 years where expectation of survival from cancer and leukaemia has gone from nearly zero to a point where 70 per cent of patients live long-term, apparently cured of their disease.
In the early Seventies we offered little hope, and dealt with a lot of gloom, despair and catharsis, but also perhaps offered a more realistic approach to survival. Now we do indeed offer more hope than is appropriate: we must be better at facing the realities of risks and survival, even if that induces more family and patient distress than we would like to cope with.
O B EDEN
Professor of Paediatric Oncology
Manchester Children's Hospital
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
A victory for gender equality on the high seas
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove