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Peace, rest and quiet

Henry Marsh is a neurosurgeon from the UK who is regarded as unusual because he writes and speaks openly about his failures in surgery. It was illuminating listening to him in conversation with Paul Barclay at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Sunday evening.

To a non-medico he provides insights into the difficulties of the doctor-patient relationship and the struggle to build trust, especially important when the outcome of surgery is dire. Essentially he believes that it is an uneven relationship resulting in the doctor having the power and the patient making decisions from a place of fear. Marsh's routine is to visit his patients the night before surgery and again after surgery. He recommends sitting next to the patient, to briefly give information then listen to them. You must give the impression of not being in a rush.

Marsh is also outspoken about hospital environments and patient care, "Peace, rest and quiet is what you need when you are in hospital, but it's seldom what you get". He believes that all new hospitals must used evidence based design as posited by Roger Ulrich. Perhaps for the older hospitals the use of Mindsettle could be part of the solution.

I was fascinated by his candour in describing neurosurgery as crude, because there is so little known about the brain. Marsh reads up on the latest from neuroscience to deepen his understanding of perhaps our most mysterious organ. I look forward to reading his two books DO NO HARM and ADMISSIONS, they will be filled with shrewd observations. Writing in his journal has given him a way to make observations about his work, his patients, his colleagues and life as a doctor that has allowed Marsh to reach a decent level of self awareness. I hope my scribblings will have the same benefit.

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