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
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss