Fell, Peter John 1941-

views updated

FELL, Peter John 1941-

PERSONAL: Born April 13, 1941, in Keighley, Yorkshire, England; son of John Frederick and Doris Emily (Matthews) Fell; married Veronica Anne Liddelow, October 29, 1966; children: Matthew, Johanna, Alasdair. Education: St. Mary's Hospital, London University, B.S., M.B., 1965, M.D., 1973. Hobbies and other interests: "Walking, fishing, golf."

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Deddington Health Center, Earls Lane, Deddington OX16 0TQ, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: St. Mary's Hospital, house surgeon and physician, 1965-66, registrar in medicine, 1966-67, research assistant, steroid unit, 1967-68; Beecham Labs, London, clinical pharmacologist, 1968-69, Organon, Netherlands, 1969-71; Fisons, England, head of medical affairs, 1971—, department director of research, 1975; Oxford Allergy Center, Oxford, England, director, 1989—; Oxford Health Management, director, 1990—.

MEMBER: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.


(With William D. Skees) The Doctor's Computer Handbook, Lifetime Learning Publications (Belmont, CA), 1984.

(With John Emsley) Was It Something You Ate?: Food Intolerance, What Causes It, and How to Avoid It, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS: Peter Fell practices general medicine in the United Kingdom, with a special interest, on a business level, in computers, and on a medical level, in allergies. Over the course of his almost half-a-century practice, he has written two books that were both very timely. The first covers an near step-by-step list of instructions on how to computerize a medical office, which was written in the early 1980s when doctors were struggling with both the concept and the actualization of such a project. The second, written in the late 1990s, tackles a increasingly common affliction, namely food intolerance. At a time when the food supply is so abundant and so protected by government agencies that oversee the act of processing it, just why are so many people having reactions? Fell looks at both the additives and the natural elements in food that might be the culprits. He suggests way of eliminating them from the diet, and lists steps to be taken to reduce the unpleasant physical reactions to them.

Fell collaborated with computer scientist William D. Skees to bring the day-to-day business aspects of his medical practice under the control of a computer. The two men tackled the problem, then wrote a book in 1984 describing how they did it. The results were a well-written book that gained not only the attention of doctors but of other business people interested in bringing their own small offices into the age of computerization. "The Doctor's Computer Handbook is a gem," wrote Bruce R. Evans in Byte. "It leads you through the pitfalls of computerizing a medical practice in a style that should be a model for all technical writing." Because most doctors are not expected to be computer wizards and most computer wizards know little if anything about medical practice, the coming together of these two minds, plus the clear writing style of this books makes is a rare find. As a reviewer for the Journal of Gerontology pointed out, the book not only helps doctors learn how to computerize their medical records and help them with their accounting, "it will also be appreciated by doctors who want to find out how computers are changing the practice of medicine." Evans concluded his critique of The Doctor's Computer Handbook by complimenting Fell on his clear writing, which Evans stated is "in a class of its own." The book first tells the reader exactly what it is going to present. In subsequent chapters, charts, examples, and lists are provided to lead the reader through the process. Before the end of the book the whole process is summarized. "Unity, clarity, and coherence are some rules of thumb not found elsewhere," Evans stated.

In 1999 Fell collaborated with John Emsley on the first book for general readers describing exactly what causes food allergies and the best ways to either minimize the problems or to avoid them. Ten years prior to the writing of Was It Something You Ate?: Food Intolerance: What Causes It and How to Avoid It, Fell was appointed director of the Oxford Allergy Center in England. The experience that he gained in this position helped enlighten the topic of allergies, and working with Emsley helped him translate the research material and practical knowledge into a lay person's vocabulary.

There are certain common foods that almost everyone has some allergic reaction to. If these foods are eaten in small amounts, they will not cause dramatic reactions in most people. Fell's book lists those foods, which include alcohol, caffeine, eggs, dairy products, and peanuts, to name a few. Other irritants are additives that are introduced into processed food, such as the popular tenderizing chemical MSG and sulfites. The book also explains why some people are intolerant of certain foods, defines what the symptoms of food allergies are, and why some people's intolerance is much higher than others. Fell even explains the difference between food allergies and food intolerance, the first actually occurring less frequently than the latter.

Hugh Pennington, a professor of bacteriology, stated in a review published in Times Higher Education Supplement that he picked up the book and began reading it with "unease." He was sure that it was going to be another book that would alarm the general public about the dangers contained in modern food processing. Other reviewers had a similar reaction. However, P. Osei for Choice wrote that Fell's book is not meant to scare people but rather to offer information on how to "possibly avoid food intolerance." After reading the book, Pennington agreed. "I need not have worried." Fells and Emsley, he wrote, "have produced an excellent and well-written guide to the non-nutrient food components that can cause harm." Pennington also pointed out that Fells does not pretend to know everything. He admits where his knowledge is lacking and he is not afraid to tell readers that there are scientific theories that might makes sense one year but are totally refuted the next. Pennington praised Fell for his frankness, something he opined that more scientists should practice.

According to Fell, people can learn what causes food intolerance and in doing so can at least minimize the affect of nausea, headaches, and diarrhea that often are the result. His book is based on proven medical and scientific research and is organized in a way that makes it easy for readers to pinpoint their particular problem. Actual case studies of patients stricken by bouts of food intolerance illustrate each chapter, educating the readers on not only what causes the affliction but also on what type of reaction each specific element might cause.



Byte, September, 1984, Bruce R. Evans, review of The Doctor's Computer Handbook, p. 63.

Choice, November, 2000, P. Osei, review of Was It Something You Ate? p. 565.

Journal of Gerontology, November, 1984, review of The Doctor's Computer Handbook, p. 772.

Times Higher Education Supplement, February 4, 2000, Hugh Pennington, "Nothing So Scary as Demon Drink," p. 27.