Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Sea and Poison

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 23 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b782
  1. Robindra Basu Roy, specialist trainee year 1, paediatrics, Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust, London
  1. robinbasuroy{at}

    “Doctors aren’t saints.” So says Toda, one of the doctors in Shusaku Endo’s novel that was based on actual human vivisections carried out in Japan during the second world war. “They want to be successful. They want to become full professors. And when they want to try out new techniques, they don’t limit their experiments to monkeys and dogs. Suguro, this is the world, and you ought to take a closer look at it.”

    The Sea and Poison is a tale of the subjugation of patients’ care to doctors’ ambitions. It tells of medical error and its concealment and of war crimes carried out by medical staff. A power vacuum …

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