The Medicine: A doctor’s notes (Karen Hitchcock, Black Inc.)
When discussing modern medicine there is a lot to consider. There are the complexities of the doctor/patient relationship. The wellbeing of doctors. How responsible treatment and the law sometimes intersect poorly. Where the responsibility for health and resultant care truly lies. The list goes on. The Medicine, written by doctor and writer Karen Hitchcock, is a comprehensive and detailed exploration of all of the above and more. In less capable hands this book would have been a mess. Instead, it is a thought-provoking and compelling read. The book is structured as a series of short, connected articles, drawing from different periods of Hitchcock’s life. By combining both her personal experiences and professional practice, she probes topics ranging from doctor shortages in rural areas to euthanasia and the use of ‘illicit’ drugs to treat health issues, and dissects shortcomings in both the medical system and on a societal level. Though occasionally the language dips into the more clinical, and once or twice the chosen topics seem slightly tangential to the book’s focus, overall The Medicine is simultaneously accessible, educational and entertaining. While this book may not have all the answers—that would be an impossible goal—Hitchcock raises questions that urgently need to be asked and addressed. Readers who liked Kate Cole-Adams’ Anaesthesia will find much to appreciate in The Medicine.
Elizabeth Flux is a freelance writer and editor