Liam Farrell: What 30 years in practice can teach you

La Rochefoucauld, a 17th-century philosopher who thought all behaviour was determined by what he called 'self love', distilled his beliefs into a number of maxims.

Penguin Classics used to produce a nice edition and at college, I carried a copy around, to appeal to the more intellectual girls.

In homage to the great man, after 30 years in practice, I have developed a few maxims of my own, the medical equivalent of not invading Russia during the winter and never playing dice with a Sicilian when death is on the line:

  • At this moment, somebody somewhere is writing a protocol for writing protocols.
  • Drinking three litres of laxative before having a colonoscopy is an ordeal every doctor should endure before inflicting it on others.
  • There is, in the misfortune of other doctors, something not entirely unpleasant.
  • Doctors should never wear suede shoes.
  • On a home visit, if all the furniture is thrashed but the TV and Sky box remain intact, there is no psychosis involved.
  • It is easier to be wise for patients than for ourselves.
  • The light at the end of the tunnel means you are having a colonoscopy and worse, you're awake.
  • The more I see of patients, the more I like my dog (adapted from Mark Twain).
  • There are lies, damned lies and statistics, and then there's the graphs that drug reps show you (also adapted from Mark Twain).
  • Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.
  • Demand to cut bureaucracy leads to conferences, workshops and training courses on how to do it.
  • No drug has yet been invented that will make you good looking and popular with the opposite sex.
  • All NHS bureaucrats are selfish boneheads.
  • Learn from complementary medicine; if you can't baffle them with brilliance, boggle them with bullshit.
  • You can learn something new every day, even from drug reps - for example, never marinate yourself in cologne overnight.

Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

What medico-legal challenges will GPs face in 2019?

What medico-legal challenges will GPs face in 2019?

The MDU's head of advisory services, Dr Caroline Fryar, predicts which medico-legal...

GP practices providing online consultations doubled in 12 months, survey suggests

GP practices providing online consultations doubled in 12 months, survey suggests

The proportion of GP practices in England providing online consultations has almost...

Dr Nikita Kanani: Why peer support is the key to building a stronger general practice

Dr Nikita Kanani: Why peer support is the key to building a stronger general practice

NHS England's acting director of primary care Dr Nikita Kanani says connecting with...

Next-day GP appointments three times as likely to be missed as same-day bookings

Next-day GP appointments three times as likely to be missed as same-day bookings

Patients are nearly three times as likely to miss appointments booked with GP practices...

Outsourcing GP services overseas could be 'legal minefield', experts warn

Outsourcing GP services overseas could be 'legal minefield', experts warn

Using digital technology to outsource GP consultations overseas could leave the NHS...

RCGP sets out advice for GPs on prescribing cannabis

RCGP sets out advice for GPs on prescribing cannabis

GPs should warn patients hoping to access cannabis-based medicines that the process...