Book #4: How We Do Harm, A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (2011). By Otis Webb Brawley, MD with Paul Goldberg
A Doctor Breaks Ranks
About Being Sick in America
This book is a sober reminder to be as wise, informed, and as active a health-care consumer as possible – and to help those we advocate for to be well informed when using health-care services.
Otis (the author likes to go by his first name) is a special person. He loves medicine – lives in the beast of the health-care system – but clearly wants to see the practice of medicine evolve into something much better. The man clearly walks his talk.
This book is easy to read. It’s organized into short, true stories that make their points as subtlety as a freight train bearing down on you. It’s a non-fiction, page turner from page one. You’ll come away with more insight into health disparities, medical ethics, end-of-life treatment, for-profit influences, and health-care supply and demand issues.
Here is a quote that sums up a central theme of the book:
“Here is the problem: Poor Americans consume too little health care, especially preventive health care. Other − often rich Americans − consume too much health care, often unwisely and sometimes to their detriment. The American health-care system combines famine with gluttony. We could improve dismal health outcomes on both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum if we provided care we know to be effective.”
Something that’s always bugged me are all of the medical screening schemes offered to the public. Then, when I see huge numbers of the population being diagnosed with the same thing, and treated the same way, I become concerned. Otis explains what is behind my unease. He also cautions there is such a thing as being too early in a diagnosis, and that “more is better” (where health care is concerned) might not be correct. Often less is better.
The epilogue is one of the best summaries I’ve come across of what needs to happen in our health-care system. And we should all hold our own health-care providers to Otis’ litmus test for communicating with patients.
- Tell them what you know.
- Tell them what you don’t know.
- Tell them what you think.
That’s the kind of relationship we should all have with medicine.
Check out the other books in The Health & Wellness Promotion 2013 Summer Reading Program – click here.
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Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read, and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.