About Slow Medicine

Because it was off-the-radar, over the hill to the poorhouse, God’s Hotel (Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco) turned out to be the perfect place for Dr. Sweet to practice what she eventually came to call Slow Medicine—as opposed to Fast Medicine, just like Slow Food is opposed to Fast Food.

She was not the only one to come up with this concept. Several other physicians around the world had the same idea at about the same time, although each uses the term somewhat differently. For Dr. Sweet Slow Medicine is about style as much as substance. It is taking the time to talk to and examine and even re-examine a patient; to call other doctors; to go over lab tests and X-rays; to think about and muse over a diagnosis; to discontinue medications that are, perhaps, no longer needed; to try a new medication—but carefully. It’s style is slow, careful, step by step, and she explores that style in detail in Slow Medicine. 

Remarkably, although Slow Medicine takes more time, perhaps, than Fast Medicine, its apparent inefficiency is actually efficient, because it leads to the right diagnosis and the right treatment. As the Seals say, “Slow is Smooth, and Smooth is Fast.” Dr. Sweet thinks of this as the Efficiency of Inefficiency, and there are studies under way now to prove that taking time is the most efficient as well as the best way to practice medicine.

For a bit more, see the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/04/25/should-a-doctor-be-like-a-gardener/?mod=google_news_blog