Thoughtful Health Care offers a timely antidote to a climate dominated by endless rules, regulations, mission statements, and codes of practice. Fixation on avoiding risk at all costs has created a checkbox culture where everyone is treated according to standardized plans. Yet, people are complicated, and cannot be understood disconnected from the complex histories, values, and environments that shape us. Obsessive focus on “safety first” has obscured this reality and drastically undervalued critical thinking and insightful practice. David Seedhouse explains how simplistic labeling, mindless targets and empty slogans have created a delusion of control and efficiency, obscuring actual patient and carer realities. Using thought-provoking examples from health care and beyond, the book advocates the restoration of thoughtfulness, creativity, and independence in health work. By reading this book, students and practitioners alike will be aided in developing their decision making and critical thinking skills, and ultimately serve those in their care better and with more honesty. The book ends with a powerful and practical toolkit that can be used thoughtfully and effectively by every open-minded health worker. Thoughtful Health Care is for any health worker committed to caring with ethical awareness and practical sensitivity.



A fundamental limit on the way we understand the world and each other is our need to label everything. Labelling is like a spotlight. It brightly illuminates a small part of the stage, but leaves everything else in shadow.

Nothing is Obvious

We like to think everything has a simple explanation – we just need to find it. Then we can label it and put it in its rightful slot on the reality shelf.

Why did we lose the soccer game? Why did that car accident happen? Why did my relationship fail? Why did I burn the toast? Why did those patients die unnecessarily? Why did my boss act aggressively towards me? Why did the rocket ship explode? Why is our climate changing?

When we ask such ...

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