Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives

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Written by physicians, caregivers, patients, and family members, the twelve essays collected in Silence Kills present a compelling, and often frightening, insider look at the lack of communication and understanding currently plaguing the American health care system.These stories explore a wide and complicated range of experiences—a doctor is pressured into sending a patient home from the emergency room but later must face his decision when the patient suddenly dies; a physician must deal with her self-doubt as she faces a malpractice lawsuit and must come to terms with the fact that even doctors are fallible and human; a woman fights for her mother's mental health and well-being against a system eager to over-medicate the elderly; and more—but all share one thing: a frustration with a system that hinders communication and often leads to unnecessary suffering.

Inspired by groundbreaking research by VitalSmarts, a global leader in organizational performance and leadership, and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), and supported by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Lee Gutkind, editor and founder of Creative Nonfiction, has collected the essays in this volume—in the hope that these voices, speaking out, taking action and risks, will inspire others to make changes that will improve communication within our troubled health care system.

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What People Are Saying

Abraham Verghese
These essays illustrate how easily pride, misunderstanding, laziness, denial, poor data-gathering, avarice, expediency, selfishness and, above all, poor communication, can undo the best of technology, the best that medicine has to offer.
Abraham Verghese

These essays strive to break the silence, to ask the questions that should be asked, that should have been asked. They illustrate how easily pride, misunderstanding, laziness, denial, poor data-gathering, avarice, expediency, selfishness and, above all, poor communication can undo the best of technology, the best that medicine has to offer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870745188
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2007
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Gutkind's most recent book, Almost Human: Making Robots Think, details his experiences at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University. His immersion into the motorcycle subculture (Bike Fever), the organ transplant milieu (Many Sleepless Nights), and other previously un-mined worlds has led to nine books and many awards for his literary achievements. He is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and founder and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction.

Karen Wolk Feinstein is president of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative.

Abraham Verghese, a physician and writer, directs the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is well written and worth the time to read. Today's healthcare system has become so dependent on technology that we often fail to communicate to the patient and our healthcare colleagues when providing care. Even though the way patients are assessed has become more streamlined, so has the rate at which patients die in our hospital due to medical errors. As well stated in Silence Kills, 'The amount of patients that die daily in the US is equivalent to a full 757 Jumbo Jet falling out of the sky.' We need to remember that high tech, often creates a high tech, less touch environment in the patient care setting. This causes to pay more attention to the data obtained and how to treat the symptoms, instead of how to treat the patient when providing care. This book should serve as a reminder that we should never rely too much on technology, when taking care of patients. We can save ourselves from careless, deadly medical errors by becoming good listeners and communicators. Although, this book mostly focuses on the fact that health care providers need to be accountable for bad patient outcomes, it also effectively points out that it is not necessarily the healthcare providers fault for these bad outcomes, but the healthcare delivery process that creates the environment that increases the probablity that serious medical mistakes will happen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2010

    Must reading for healthcare professionals

    This book reminds each person involved in healthcare of the great responsibility that is given to each of us by the patients and family members that come to us seeking assistance. Medicine is not a perfect science, but we have a duty to be hoest and communicate fully with our patients to earn the trust they so willingly give each person inovlved in their care.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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