Medicine: Mixed Blessing

Physicians who are overconfident of germ-killing wonder drugs are living in a fool's paradise where their patients may die. This is a favorite theme of Boston's Dr. Maxwell Finland. Most doctors have rationalized that, although the sulfas and antibiotics let some resistant microbes slip by, they save so many lives that their occasional failures stand out more. The "increase" in such cases, they argue, is only relative, not real. Last week Dr. Finland attacked this defense. In his saddest jeremiad yet, he asserted that the antimicrobial drugs have caused an actual increase in...

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