December 17, 1982

Bedside Manners: A Patient's Guide to Doctors and Hospitals

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago


by Richard Gordon, 172 pp, with illus, £6.50, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982.

JAMA. 1982;248(23):3179. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330230077042

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A physician, says the Devil's Dictionary, is one "upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well." Another definition, which is more to the point, holds that a physician is "an ordinary, hardworking fellow who just happens to possess the power of life and death." Numerous "consumer advocates" and muckrakers have written books that tutor the public on how to deal with this strange creature, the physician; but none have done so with as much wit as has Richard Gordon in his latest collection of essays.

Gordon is an anesthesiologist who took to writing somewhat by accident: "I started writing with a job on the British Medical Journal. I had the bright idea of running a doctors' comic column, but the editor had a sharper sense of humor and put me in charge of the obituaries. This was invaluable practice. It taught me how to write