Medical Secrets 6th Edition
Most of my post-training professional life has been concurrent with the six editions of this book, and I have seen astounding scientific and therapeutic changes with each new update of Medical Secrets. The chapters in the sixth edition reflect the many major changes in medical science, prevention, and therapy that have occurred since the book was first published in 1991. For instance, in the first edition the mortality rate from Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was cited as 75% at 3 years, and treatment of AIDS as a chronic disease was not discussed. The sixth edition now notes the 36.9 million people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS and includes questions on preventive treatments. Elsewhere, the Gastroenterology chapter contrasts the lack of even screening tests for hepatitis C in 1991 with questions on contemporary effective methods for hepatitis C treatment in 2018. Similar contrasts can be found in all the chapters. Also noteworthy are the chapters added to later editions on Medical Ethics and Palliative Medicine, acknowledging the increased presence of these disciplines in everyday medical practice. The contributor list has also significantly changed since the first edition with new contributors to this edition adding their fresh perspectives. In addition, Drs. Cole, Habib, and Prabhaker deserve special recognition for faithfully updating their chapters from the first through the sixth editions.
I hope the students using this book will appreciate and acknowledge the perspectives in the previous editions, yet sense how quickly medicine adapts to new discoveries. Many of the quotes at the beginning of the chapters reflect the historical context of the disciplines and hopefully may prompt the reader to investigate the original sources. Perhaps some of the students reading the text today will be future contributors and remember how medicine was practiced “back during the time of the sixth edition.”
Mary P. Harward, MD, FACP
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