Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with cured patients, or a safe and secure career in medicine in Western Australia? Choose one.
Below is an excerpt from a New Scientist interview with Australian Nobel Laureate Dr Barry Marshall who was at one time a Registrar at Royal Perth Hospital. I don't think Australian medicine has changed enough since the time described, in fact I'm convinced that psychiatric labels are still used liberally as a way of illegitimately dealing with unsolved or uninvestigated medical and genetic problems.
If the H. pylori story isn't endlessly fascinating to philosophers of science, then it damn well should be.
You famously experimented on yourself with H. pylori. Was that a risk for your career?
At that point my colleagues were treating ulcer patients as psychosomatic cases – using antidepressants, tranquilisers, psychotherapy, all that kind of thing. My career was already very shaky because I was ignoring the mental state of the patient and giving them antibiotics. Then my boss's patients started secretly coming to my clinic for treatment. The politics have always been difficult in medicine. There is some truth in the way medical practice is portrayed in TV dramas.
Hey Dr Marshall, you are my hero.