What should be the focus of medicine?
Michael S. Galindo
Internal Medicine

"To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always." This anonymous quote has been true since it first appeared over 600 years ago, and will always be true as long as people have mortal bodies.

We strive to conquer disease, and I frequently see patients who have been cured of a disease that would easily have killed them just fifty years ago. But as we cure those illnesses, people live on to develop ones that we can't fix as easily. And in the end, death from disease is a certainty that cannot be kept at bay forever. Doctors and patients must keep this in mind when approaching serious illness.

Our ability to relieve suffering has improved greatly as well, even in just the last 10 years. In my practice of Palliative Medicine, though, I am often frustrated by medicine's ability to control suffering. Side effects can be limiting, and even the most potent drugs can't take away pain completely. Medicine can and will continue to make strides in improving comfort, and doctors should work hard to hear what troubles patients both physically and mentally.

Doctors and other health care workers can always give compassion to their patients and families. It should be a prime goal of medicine to promote the dignity of each patient and to stand by them through every trial.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.