This is a poor way to start, but I apologize to all the health-care professionals for this post. I know there are many competent and dedicated people in the field (and I certainly have benefited from them), but the truth is throughout medical history, there have been many erroneous conceptions and outright mistakes. As a science, medicine hasn’t always been very scientific.
Some common misconceptions and mistakes are explored in detail in a recent three-part series of podcasts on Freakanomics Radio. Provocatively titled “Bad Medicine”, the three parts and their original air dates are “The Story of 98.6” (Nov 30, 2016), “(Drug) Trials and Tribulations” (Dec 7, 2016), and “Death by Diagnosis” (Dec 14, 2016).
Some of the topics covered include the fact that the normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees really isn’t a fact, drug clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who don’t really represent the general population, and medical error is estimated to be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.
But the series ends on an optimistic note. We do learn from our mistakes and the medical profession continues to advance. So if you have a real interest in health care, this is a series worth heeding.
The podcasts can be accessed through the Freakanomics website, http://freakonomics.com/.