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Dr. Marty Makary, a cancer surgeon at the renowned John's Hopkins School of Medicine, has written a provocative, well-researched, and quite scary book that should be read by physicians, nurses, patients, and hospital administrators. Here are some shocking statistics he gives: One in four hospital patients is hurt by a medical mistake. Thirty to forty percent of our health care dollars pays for fraudulent or unnecessary care. Ten to fifteen percent of patients are not given all their options regarding their care. Possibly the most shocking statistic of all: surgeons operate on the wrong body part 40 times per week!
To a physician like myself, these statistics are unfortunately not all that surprising. Medicine is administered by humans, and thus subject to human error. Makary writes that the key to improving health care outcomes (and excess cost) is greater transparency. Basically, doctors and hospitals need to be more open with their complication rates, alternative treatments, and be more willing to prevent bad doctors from practicing medicine. Because doctors and hospitals won't make these changes, the key is patient empowerment.
In that way Makary's book pushes patients to act in their best interests and not accept the status quo. It hearkens back to his contributions with author and medical essayist Atul Gawande in "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right." In my hospital, as many others around the country, many of his recommendations are, in fact, being instituted such as with the Keystone initiative. I believe Makary makes some great points which should be seriously considered by hospital administrators and physician leaders.
While this book is quite scary to the patient, I think it's important to remind readers that the majority of physicians are competent. Some of the stories of terrible doctors can be extremely terrifying to patients, including the cardiac surgeon whose last six patients died during routine heart surgery. He is not the norm.
If you read this book, I would highly recommend two other books by prominent, caring physicians. They will remind you that the vast majority of doctors practice medicine to help people, not take advantage of the system. The aforementioned Gawande penned the classic "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science," which focuses on medical ethics, unusual patient stories, and the inevitable uncertainty of medicine. It is a very worthwhile read.
Anthony Youn, MD authored "In Stitches," a sweet, funny, and eye-opening look at the process of becoming a doctor. It's not as alarming as Makary's book, as pensive and serious as Gawande's, but leaves the reader with a sense of hope in the field of medicine. It's a great third book to compliment these two, and will leave you with a smile on your face.
Even if you read it while occupying a hospital bed.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 24, 2012
Dr. Makary has written a very accessible book about the pitfalls of US medicine and how best to avoid the worst of the worst. This book joins a growing list of physician written books that are challenging the "old boy" system of do as I tell you, don't ask questions, don't buck the system. It is only through people become smarter consumers of healthcare, can we change the current system which has the CEO's of pharmaceutical and mega-medical systems, disregarding the loss of health and life as a "cost of doing business." To them the injuries caused by their drugs, medical supplies and aggressive medical treatments are just collateral damage that is to be "managed" by their corporate legal teams. To not be a victim you must understand your adversary. Mega-healthcare corporations are not in business to get you healthy -but to keep you sick and continually take your hard earned money to maintain the CEO's top 2% lifestyle. Remember that.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2013
Even as a nurse, I found this book eye opening to what really goes on in the "background" in hospitals and what makes them tick. It offers some practical advice on choosing healthcare providers and hospitals that I found helpful. It's an interesting read.
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Posted September 25, 2012
I have heard a good deal about Dr. Makary’s new book, “Unaccountable.” After all, who could miss the publicity he’s getting? And, I find what he says on the talk shows to be fascinating. In fact, that’s what made me pick up the book last week. How is it possible that so many people are being harmed, or even killed, by medical mistakes and we have never heard about it?
I thought that it was RARE for the wrong body part to be operated on, but according to him, it’s happening as many as 40 times a week! Why are we not hearing about this? (Maybe it’s because, as Dr. Makary says, there are gag orders on any settlement deal.) They amputate the wrong arm and you can’t TELL anyone? What is that about?
I finished the book in one sitting. Didn’t even get up to make dinner. It was too good to put down. Highly recommend to everyone. It’s truly not just for doctors. It’s for patients. And, who of us hasn’t been a patient at one time or another?
Get the book!
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 11, 2014
This is my first time hearing about this book. I am happy someone was courageous enough to write a book on medical information. I definitely will be reading this book soon.
Since I was a student, in high school, I knew there was something that wasn't right about hospitals and healthcare providers. I know all healthcare providers don’t make horrible decisions for patients. My husband and I went to see a nurse for his chest pain and pain around his gall bladder. The nurse told us it was high blood pressure without doing any type of x-ray, scan or ultrasound. How can you diagnosis someone without considering and eliminating all possibilities? So then I was definitely sure some healthcare providers just don't care. They are there to get a paycheck and return home. Another situation included me in which I had strep throat and a physician diagnosed me. However, I demanded penicillin, and she did not want to give me penicillin. She said, "Well we don't carry that, but I can see if we have any in the back." So I haven't received prescribed medication from a doctor or from a clinic in several years. Usually you have to go to some pharmacy to obtain the medicine. She definitely did not want to prescribe me the medicine. I think she went to the back to get it approved. She was very hesitant that's for sure. I wanted to become a doctor (OB-GYN) and that kept me from becoming a doctor. I want to help people. I don't want to make them sicker. So now I'm attending school to become a registered nurse, but I am very skeptical. I don't want to be told what to prescribe patients and what not to prescribe patients. That is saddening because everyone should be honest and want to help others live a longer, healthier life. I read a poster in a physician’s office that read “Don’t take medicine.” So stop taking medicine! It only harms your body and breaks down your immune system. These medicines are prescribed to keep citizens sick so they can keep coming back. They don’t make medicine like penicillin or amoxicillin that will cure you and is healthier for your body. Eat healthy and exercise daily!
Posted January 12, 2014
Posted December 13, 2013
This is an excellent overview about how hospitals and doctors are making serious mistakes. The author points out that you should be empowered with medical information so that you can be a better advocate in your health care decisions. A must read for anyone that would like to be more informed about what happening in our medical world. I shared this book with many of my friends, it was that good!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2012
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Posted June 20, 2014
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Posted July 18, 2013
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