The immediacy of the writing in Healing the Wounds is such that one would think these vignettes, these stories, were written by a journalist. But the precision of the small details of both the ridiculous and the sublime in medical practice make it clear that this is a physician's voice. It is the real world of a physician who cares about people, who touches his own rage and sorrow, who understands the limitations of human knowledge and human suffering, and who sees the dramas of medical care being enacted within a system that brutalizes the caregivers and makes impossible demands on the patients' economic resources. He does this with an intensity worthy of the combination of Trapper John, St Elsewhere, and Mary Worth.
When I first read Hilfiker's article "Playing God," which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine1 three years ago, I found myself impatient, even indignant,
Cassel CK. Healing the Wounds: A Physician Looks at His Work. JAMA. 1986;256(2):281–282. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380020143045