First Do No Harm: A Review

Paracelsus’s “First Do No Harm”: A Review

America is already a low-trust society, and with good reason societal trust is rocketing further downward. Yet Americans still, by and large, trust medical institutions — perhaps more than any other set of entities. The pseudonymous Paracelsus, a practicing physician, in his book with the deliberately ironic title First Do No Harm, narrates how we are foolish to trust the medical profession, what is really the medical industry. Published by Calamo Press, First Do No Harm tells us, in short, that the two words that characterize American medicine are not “health and healing,” or even “science and rationality,” as one might think, but rather “corruption and oligarchy.”

Paracelsus, who has gained prominence for several recent articles turning a gimlet eye on his peers, takes his pseudonym from the famous sixteenth-century Swiss physician, who was instrumental in modernizing the practice of medicine. The author’s own aim is less ambitious: he wants to stop, and hopefully reverse, the decline of American medicine. To that end, he analyzes major elements of medical practice today, pointing out their deficiencies and problems. This is not a book about the Wuhan Plague; some of what he says turns around Covid, but that disease is incidental to the much larger points he makes, which revolve around the extraction of money by, and the increase of power for, those who control medicine.

First is medical education. The layman’s view is that medical education is rigorous and demanding, that while our society lets anyone become a lawyer, with lives at stake, doctors surely must be held to higher standards. That might have been true twenty-five years ago, but as the author points out today medical school classes are exclusively pass-fail, and every aspect of education is designed to ensure any inadequate student “fails forward.” Medical schools are merely businesses, desperate to bring money in the door and slavishly attentive to the demands of ignorant and politicized accreditation bodies. No student is kept from the practice of medicine. Bad or incompetent students are simply shunted into less lucrative, but patient-facing, roles, such as family practice and pediatrics.

When medical students graduate, and continue education as residents, the tried-and-true grueling schedule that enabled full competency has been neutered, to allow “work-life balance” and a fanatic focus on “wellness” — for doctors, not for patients. Although Paracelsus does not draw this connection, most of the declining standards in medical education are obvious symptoms of feminization of the profession, meant to reduce competition, increase agreeableness and consensus, and limit demands for excellence, with never a thought to the deleterious effects for patients.

Things get worse when we turn to medical administrators. Between 1975 and 2010, the author tells us, the number of physicians in the United States grew by one-and-a-half times, while the number of healthcare administrative positions grew thirty-two times. For this, we get politicization, incompetence, sclerosis, and death. And also expense, because that’s how everyone can dip his beak in the money pot. Paracelsus discusses many ubiquitous practices that jack up costs, from pushing unnecessary procedures to recoding simple procedures as complex. He also discusses the insane (and so complicated as to be difficult to understand) intersection of the federal government and the “private” healthcare system, most notably the distortions introduced as a consequence of Medicare and Medicaid. All of these increase expense and create a class of wealthy and powerful medical profiteers.

But how about medical professional societies? Aren’t they honest brokers? According to the author, they do not exist to help patients, but to line the pockets of everyone in the industry – and furthermore to advance a Leftist agenda (including notably the destructive and evil tranny agenda). But what is surprising is that this comes as a surprise to anyone; Paracelsus notes that “major medical professional societies have always had progressive goals and embraced governmental authority.” Some of this medical society corruption, such as the legal squashing of giving more responsibility to nurse practitioners, is designed to keep doctors’ pay high – but that’s only a fraction of the mischief professional societies impose on America. It is nearly impossible to obtain comparative information on doctor competency, for instance, because that might encourage the peasants to question doctors, and preventing that is a chief goal of the medical societies.

Healthcare insurance is the most corrupt and oligarchical of all. Insurers are now too big to fail (or, like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, actually governmental entities), and use that to engage in ever-more-lucrative anticompetitive practices, in cooperation with hospitals, pharmacies, and other industry participants (often effectively creating vertically-integrated monopolies). This includes essentially ignoring the Trump administration’s well-intended regulations requiring pricing transparency. Paracelsus also notes how, paradoxically, the uninsured are typically charged far less than the insured, so it is economically rational in many cases to pretend you have no insurance. Such stupidities abound throughout the system, but they are not random, rather devoted to extracting cash and increasing power for those in charge.

The CDC (and other such government entities, such as the National Institutes of Health) are wholly corrupt bureaucracies that are tentacles of the oligarchy. This fact became obvious during the Covid pandemic. Worse yet, as Paracelsus points out, they are totally incompetent, and always have been, since their creation as landing places for unemployed bureaucrats after the end of World War II. Much of their work is directed not at helping Americans, but foreigners. And the Americans they do help are mostly drug companies, for whose new drugs they bear much of the cost of development (while the drug companies get the patents and profits).

The FDA is a captive of big pharma, for whom regulators seek to work at inflated salaries after they leave government “service.” Paracelsus correctly ridicules lightweight establishment conservatives who claim that drug companies make profits only as a result of taking risks by spending money on high research-and-development costs, when in fact those are mostly offloaded to the taxpayer. Pfizer’s annual profits are shooting toward $40 billion, in part, but only in part, on the back of Covid profiteering, and show zero signs of decreasing ever. Heads they win, tails American taxpayers lose.

The author last covers the Covid “vaccines” as well as Covid treatments such as remdesivir. He thinks little of the efficacy of the latter, and he accurately points out the “vaccines,” aren’t vaccines at all, but prophylactic/therapeutic drugs of very limited efficacy and likely significant short- and long-term side effects, about which we are forbidden to talk. Again, the “vaccines” here are a shining example of the intersection of corruption and oligarchy; a few well-connected people get rich without taking any risk, while the average person is worse off.

This book is a quick read, but it still manages to include solutions – or at least suggestions for improvement. Burning it all down is probably the only real one, I’d argue, as with most of our society’s problems. Paracelsus, instead, suggests developing “a parallel and decentralized healthcare system.” This, presumably, would be somewhat like concierge medicine, only for the average person, therefore both affordable and flexible. The problem with this is that, in a corrupt and oligarchical system, such parallel structures, or any parallel structure built by the Right if they show any sign of being successful, will not be permitted to exist; they would be crushed by force. Thus, no apprenticeship system will be permitted to be an alternative to existing medical education, as such would end the grift, and prevent the Left from having a captive audience for indoctrination. (It might be possible in a state such as Florida, with a government willing to actually act on behalf of the people, to require that accreditation of medical schools must be controlled not by third parties, with strict disallowance of any matter not directly related to demonstrable accomplishment, but by the state. So maybe something can be done.)

First do No Harm is an excellent overview of the problems. A complete analysis would be five times as long, no doubt. It’d cover other problems, such as driving out good doctors entirely from the profession with endless paperwork and liability. But as it is, the book accomplishes the admirable goal of eroding the widespread unjustified trust in medicine. Changing the system would require an enormous amount of power and will. We aren’t going to find either of those things under our current political system; the intersection of corruption and oligarchical power is adamantine. What we’ll get, and in many ways already have, is a two-tier system where the rich, and even more the well-connected, can get excellent medical care while everyone else gets a terrible or mediocre one at best. It will be like the horrors of Britain’s National Health Service worsened by the far greater extraction of wealth from the system by those who manipulate the system.

One way in which this book falls down, is that it mostly ignores what might be called ‘third-rail matters’. Paracelsus largely passes over the criminal travesty of the medical profession’s eager participation in the grooming of children for sexual uses, most recently connected to coddling (and profiting from) gender dysphoria, but on display in broader acceptance and furthering of child sexualization, to which no physician dares to object, on pain of losing his license. The author also does not focus on the rapidly metastasizing attacks on white people by the medical profession. This is just part of the general anti-white program of today’s American elites, but it would have been beneficial to highlight the many recent instances, for example, where white people were denied lifesaving Covid drugs because they were of the wrong race (although he does mention how Medicare and Medicaid are now paying extra money to doctors who implement an “anti-racism plan,” that is, a government-approved plan to deliberately harm white people.) Yet more sins that will have to be paid for by the profession, hopefully soon. Overall though, First Do No Harm is a must-read for anyone who wishes to be informed on what is wrong with our medical establishment, and so I’d encourage you to grab a copy.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Book reviewed: Paracelsus’s “First Do No Harm

Charles Haywood is an essayist and the Editor in Chief of The Worthy House.

out NOW

Our first issue, “Art & Literature for Dissidents”, is now available for purchase. Get your copy here.

Scroll to top