Improving the Ethics and Practice of Medicine

This should be a very interesting high-level panel discussion, with Robert M. Pearl, M.D., Executive Director and CEO, The Permanente Medical Group, Victoria Sweet, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF; Author, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine, Josh Adler, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Lisa Aliferis, KQED Health Editor – Moderator  at the Commonwealth Club, this Thursday, in San Francisco, 6pm – 7pm.


The Hotel-Dieu in Paris, founded in 651 AD, and to this day, right next to Notre Dame, is having exactly the same kind of troubles as our own hospitals in the US. In the interest of economics and efficiency, its beds are being gradually whittled down, and now an effort is taking place to close its emergency room. The idea is to “bring the Hotel-Dieu into the twenty-first century,” which apparently means shutting it down, and tearing yet another hole in the French safety net. For details and for readers of French, see here: This is noteworthy because the French healthcare system is often held up as an example for our own, although, apparently, it is having exactly the same kind of problems, and worse, the same kind of solutions.

Number Two on Marin Bestseller List!

Taste, taste, taste. Isn’t that what Marin has? Good taste?

MARIN NONFICTION for December 30, 2012

1. “Help, Thanks, Wow” by Anne Lamott

2. “God’s Hotel” by Victoria Sweet

3. “Thomas Jefferson” by Jon Meacham

4. “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” by Ina Garten

5. “Safari” by Dan Kainen and Carol Kaufmann

6. “The Signal and the Noise” by Nate Silver

7. “The Generals” by Thomas E. Ricks

8. “Dogfight” by Calvin Trillin

9. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

10. “Patriarch” by David Nasaw

A Best Scientific American Book of the Year

The Scientific American named GOD’S HOTEL one of its Best Science Books of 2012: best books of the year. The review in part reads, in part, that “Sweet is a medical practitioner who started working at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, based on an almshouse model dating back to the Middle Ages (the “god’s hotel,” or Hotel-Dieu, of the title). This book came highly recommended by colleagues, and deservedly so. Modern healthcare, at least in the US, is fairly pragmatic and utilitarian in its approach. Sickness and disease are problems to be solved, and the practice of medicine gives us the tools to find those solutions. And I, for one, am grateful for all that modern medicine has to offer. But Sweet’s book reminds all of us that medicine is also about not losing sight of patients’ humanity. It’s equal parts funny and poignant, and a very enjoyable read.”