Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review: Deysine, Maximo. The Old Man’s Passion for Medicine: Would a 1920 Medical Graduate Feel Just as Proud?

Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.. 2010. 124p. ISBN 978-1-4349-0521-5. $14.00. ISBN 978-1-4349-1966-3. (eBook) $9.00.

In this fiction book, which may be autobiographical, Deysine (M.D., University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; resident, St. Raphael’s Hospital, New Haven, CT and Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, NY; Fellow, American College of Surgeons; Board Certified, Surgery and Thoracic Surgery), now deceased (1931-2009) but formerly a professor of surgery, practicing physician, and author of many books, reflects upon the good and bad aspects of the United States’ healthcare system. Using various literary devices, including an old photograph and two main characters, the author introduces readers to his thoughts about its current and future conditions. Deysine’s story begins when the “old man,” the author’s main voice and stand-in, a distinguished surgeon practicing medicine somewhere in the United States, encounters an old photograph of medical students from the Class of 1921 in his basement library. The photograph inspires the aging physician to ask himself the question: would these young doctors “feel just as proud” today about their profession and the status of the healthcare system? While the old man concludes that they would (p. 4), he forgets the question arising from the photograph until Franco Tosato, a freelance reporter seeking to write a lengthy exposé on the “real” status of medicine in the United States, approaches him for an extended interview over several months of shadowing the surgeon. (p. 26) Distrustful of reporters, the old doctor agrees to the interview, provided that he will be able to make reference to the history of medicine and how the discipline has improved. (p. 27) Intent on promoting the history of medicine and its advances (p. vi), he believes that such knowledge is crucial to understanding its current state of affairs (p. 27) During ensuing encounters, many of which are described in chapters entitled “Getting to Know Each Other,” “At the Doctors Lounge,” “The Transplantation of a Foreign Surgical Resident,” “The Hernia,” “Coronary Care,” “Enter the Merchants,” “Thickening the Plot,” the old surgeon, the reporter, and supporting characters discuss many pertinent topics, not limited to informed consent, malpractice, advertising, religion and the practice of medicine, on being an immigrant doctor, the training of doctors, advances in medicine, healthcare administration, the disempowerment of medical staffs, medical billing and record keeping, medical bureaucracies, and doctor- patient relationships. Ending on a hopeful, utopian note, the story indicates ways in which the status of medicine and the healthcare system may be improved and ultimately perfected. Constituting one successful doctor’s assessment of and vision for medicine and the delivery of healthcare services in the United States, this publication will interest doctors, healthcare professionals, some general readers, and others. Concise, well- written, thoughtfully- conceived, artfully- presented, and enjoyable to read, it is highly recommended for public libraries and some special library collections. Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team. Availability:,