Views & Reviews The Best Medicine

A conversation with great doctors

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 08 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6746
  1. Liam Farrell, retired general practitioner, Crossmaglen, County Armagh
  1. drfarrell{at}

We stand on the shoulders of giants, but it can be an uncomfortable perch.

“This will help your cough,” I said firmly, summoning up all the authority of our ancient profession, of our eternal battle against superstition and ignorance, of titans like Harvey and Lister and Semmelweiss and Pasteur, and of the sacrifices they made often in the face of persecution and ridicule.

“Simple linctus 10 mL qid,” I wrote, and the ghosts of the titans shrank back in disgust. Lister …

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