Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Pathologists are people too

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 28 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b328
  1. Debra Milne, consultant histopathologist, Sunderland Royal Hospital
  1. debra.milne{at}

    Pathologists have long been portrayed as “doctors of death.” Debra Milne asks whether a book can do anything to help make society look on them more favourably

    Pathologists have an image problem. We are either social misfits or forensic experts but not ordinary people. At parties I find the most typical reactions to be morbid fascination or politely concealed revulsion. A friend went to enormous lengths to hide his occupation, but eventually the stand-up comedian Ross Noble wheedled it out of him. Paul (not his real name) will never sit in the front row again.

    So it was with considerable self interest that I picked up A Matter of Life and Death. This book was commissioned by the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland in the wake of the organ retention scandal at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the resulting negative media portrayal of pathologists as …

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