Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

The error of our ways

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 29 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d4082
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

Medicine is a family. Not a nuclear family, in a framed professional photograph with a fake bookcase in the background, scrubbed school uniforms, and beaming white smiles. Medicine is a chipped tooth dysfunctional family of 15 children living in a small terraced house somewhere up north. The older ones despair of how spoilt the younger ones are, while the younger ones say the older ones never listen. There is notional parental control, but the reality is self regulated anarchy. There is perpetual feuding, kicking, scratching, hair pulling, ganging up, and name calling, but rarely punching. …

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