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Gesundheit (Patch Adams, Healing Arts Press, £13.99; ISBN 0-89281-781-X)

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For anyone who has seen Robin Williams in Patch Adams this book is essential reading. The issues raised in the film about the relationships between doctors and their patients are explored in greater detail. The book provides a surprising analysis of the research base on which Patch's approach to clinical care is based. The confidence with which he approaches patients is refreshing, especially in a country where malpractice cover is so essential. However, that very basic element of clinical practice has never formed part of Patch's approach. He has survived without it and indeed thrived. The need to put humanity and humour back into clinical practice is the driving force behind Patch's clinical work and is also the basis of his message to other clinicians and patients across the world.

Although you may not always agree with the ideas propounded in Geshundheit, you will not be able to ignore them. Patch believes doctors must empathise with their patients and share in their experiences. It is only then that we can hope to limit the spread of medical litigation and restore the traditional trusting relationship between patient and doctor.

There are many memorable quotes in this book. However, the one I like the best concerns patients and how to be an ideal patient:

“Try to care for your caregivers, no matter how poorly other health care professionals may have treated you in the past. Once you choose a caregiver, enter the relationship full of trust, excitement, openness and friendliness. There is a lot of pain in the healing arts. Many healers feel burned out, frustrated, angry and depressed. So act as if you wanted to enrich their day . . . . . . Be a patient patient”.—John Mayberry, Editor

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