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When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  142 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In this examination of the doctor-patient relationship, Drs. Wen and Kosowsky argue that diagnosis, once the cornerstone of medicine, is fast becoming a lost art, with grave consequences. Using real-life stories of cookbook-diagnoses-gone-bad, the doctors illustrate how active patient participation can prevent these mistakes. Wen and Kosowsky offer tangible follow-up quest ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 8th 2013)
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Jan 15, 2013 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book decries what Wen and Kosowsky call “cookbook medicine,” the idea that everything can be diagnosed and treated correctly if your doctor follows a flowchart of questions and treatments. The authors persuasively make the case that this style of medical practice leads to a lot of unnecessary tests and often misses the root cause of a health issue.

The bloated health care industry is obviously a big political issue these days, and WDDL brings an intimidating subject down to a human scale. Wi
Katrina Roi
Jan 16, 2013 Katrina Roi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm in the process of applying to medical school and also in the midst of an ongoing illness. As a patient, I appreciate the practical suggestions for questions to ask and conversations to have with your doctor. And as a future doctor, this book is a helpful guide for how to provide more effective care. It's engaging, easy to read and full of great stories. I think it's really easy to get caught up in testing as a doctor (or a patient), and this book helps to move us beyond that approach. I love ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Talent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book by two Harvard physicians, Dr Leana Wen and Dr Joshua Kosowsky offers to diagnose what is wrong with the US healthcare system, attack the failures of "cookbook medicine", and increase patient self-advocacy.

This book fulfills these goals well. I recommend it as a good introduction for patients into the world of clinical reasoning and for doctors to review their practices. The book is peppered with extreme cases where cookbook medicine prevails over commonsense and patients were not emp
J.J. Zerr
Feb 24, 2013 J.J. Zerr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up the book, read the dust cover and was prepared to be underwhelmed. Over the last three years I have participated in an aviation safety conference which has expanded its invitation list to include the medical profession as well as other fields. During these conferences I was struck by how all industries have improved production processes, aviation safety, and patient care by adapting and refining quality control methods. This approach has been embraced and implanted into many industri ...more
Dec 20, 2013 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have worked in the healthcare field for almost 30 years. While I am not a physician I have seen first hand what Dr. Wen and Dr. Kosowsky describe in this most excellent book. These doctors have the guts and the fortitude to tell the real story, one that many physicians would rather not have their unsuspecting patients know.

I have worked in Healthcare Quality Management & Health Care Risk Management and tried to improve the quality, safety, and continuity of care that everyone deserves. It
Daisy Crawley
Jan 12, 2013 Daisy Crawley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by how much I would enjoy this book. I'm not normally someone who reads nonfiction medical books, but this was recommended to me by a friend of a friend. It's a fantastic read, with lots of interesting stories that illustrate what is wrong with the healthcare system and how it affects each of us. Healthcare today makes patients feel utterly out of control and powerless, and this book contains lots of tips like the 8 Pillars to Better Diagnosis for empowering patients to take back ...more
Gerry O'Malley
Jul 02, 2014 Gerry O'Malley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“When Doctors Don’t Listen” is possibly the worst book ever written in the genre.

It is a calculated, deliberate, passive-aggressive doctor bashing book filled with ridiculously unrealistic case scenarios and hilariously contrived “scripts” that patients and doctors are advised to study and incorporate into their dialogue. The recommendations to doctors and patients alike are inane and repetitive and an insistence and call for doctors to provide “a diagnosis” to every patient is false and hollow
Dec 25, 2014 Libby rated it really liked it
A very good book! Medical schools teach doctors how to deal with patients - this book teaches patients how to deal with doctors. Very good ideas for how to get your point across, how to make sure you get the right diagnosis, and how to avoid having all those endless tests.
A highly practical guide, including chapter summaries and worksheets, to meaningfully participating in a medical visit for an acute illness. I love the earnest advocacy for honest dialog between patients and practitioners. I agree we should all actively engage in our own care. I wonder how broadly the lessons apply, though, given cultural differences and social disparities in the U.S.? Now that Dr. Wen has experience as Baltimore Health Commissioner, how would she change the approach described i ...more
Nov 22, 2014 LibMomTBI rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, medical
Not TBI specific but this title was a game changer for me, even though I'm a nurse. This is more than just keeping yourself safe, it is about how to feel more in control of your health and how to help your physicians give you better care. Dr. Wen's technique for "telling your story" is especially important for people with chronic illnesses who see many different types of physicians. I especially like her ways of handling those inevitable "that doesn't make sense to me for my particular situation ...more
Judy Weisenberg
Apr 21, 2013 Judy Weisenberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Underestimates many doctors I know who definitely do not practice cookbook medicine. That being said, gives valuable insight to the "layperson" and hopefully will help bridge the divide between patient and healthcare provider.
Aug 17, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book is all about getting the best possible care and accurate diagnoses every time a person goes to the doctor, hospital, or emergency room. It focuses on the patient being their own healthcare advocate and how to effectively communicate with doctors to bypass unnecessary tests and avoid misdiagnoses. It gives guidance to the patient with stories and examples of what to say and do with your doctor. As someone who has received a wrong diagnoses resulting in the wrong surgical procedure, I re ...more
Bd Drop
Sep 05, 2013 Bd Drop rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Does not accurately describe the practice of most physicians, and advises distrust by patients.
Apr 08, 2015 Lydia rated it really liked it
This book describes medicine as an art - beginning with a brief history of medicine through various eras, leading up to the present day 'cookbook' diagnosis.* The authors, doctors themselves, do not blame other doctors for misdiagnosis, rather they fault the medical education system that is currently practiced. Basically a patient is asked a series of 'yes' or 'no' questions, which leads to a 'chief complaint', which then leads the doctor to continue down a diagnosis 'pathway' to rule out certai ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky, ER specialists, want to teach patients how to present their symptoms in a way that doctors will pay attention to. They talk about how to get the doctor's attention when he/she seems to be on a pathway that doesn't consider all of their symptoms.

Wen and Kosowsky are proponents of patient centered care, where the physician and patient work together to discover the correct diagnosis, without a lot of unneeded tests. Must read!
Unit of Raine
Aug 07, 2014 Unit of Raine rated it liked it
Makes a solid case for patient advocacy and being your own advocate. And I am a good advocate for myself ... for the routine checks, etc. But I don't think I handle my mono & suspected liver failure (just mono...) diagonsis well. Mainly because I was so sick and on such a downward spiral.

Awareness & preparation are key to forcing more productive doctor's appointments.
Jul 03, 2015 Kim marked it as to-read
To get a hold of this book, I had to order a print (paperback, specifically) copy. The ebook isn't available to Australian customers. This is my format of choice, due to physical difficulties with books with paper pages. Something to keep in mind if you're looking to buy it from outside of USA and you have issues of accessibility: the ebook cannot be ordered and there is no audiobook.

(Review coming after a receive and then read my copy)
Randy Nutt
Dec 04, 2014 Randy Nutt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to be a patient advocate for your self

Great advice for all patients and caregivers!! Hope this becomes the next big thing in the healthcare discussion of the USA
Aug 20, 2015 Kme_17 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2015
I received this as a first read. This one had some interesting information that could help in a health crisis. The author definitely did the research. Also the information is written in a easy to consume format. However, the book also could be a little heavy handed about the distrust with the medical profession.
Pr Latta
Directed toward the lay public, my rating reflects how this book (and the author -- I heard her speak before I purchased the title) changed my way of interacting with medical professionals. I was trained as a nurse practitioner so I was familiar with how doctor's think, etc. and have great respect for systems and protocols in reducing errors. But I hadn't been too successful in translating it into the patient experience. Dr. Wen shares techniques that allows the patient to feel more in control a ...more
Charlotte Davies
This was interesting, but a little woffly. The message was clear and well articulated.
Vicky Titcomb
Mar 24, 2013 Vicky Titcomb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! Very well written and very important. It really opened my eyes to the importance of being an informed patient and the need to communicate effectively with doctors to help reach an accurate diagnosis. I was completely unaware of the current trend toward "cookbook medicine" and clinical pathways before reading this book.

The book is clear and concise so the messages stay with you long after reading it. I'll refer to both the 8 Pillars to a Better Diagnosis and the 21 Exercises to Be
Rachel Parrott
Apr 17, 2015 Rachel Parrott rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book provides patients a look into the world of medicine and many tools to work with their doctors for the best individual medical care whenever they seek it be it from their regular doctor, specialist or the ER.

The authors speak of what they call “cookbook medicine” that will be familiar to many. If the method is as prevalent as they present I do not know, but their tools can help you be heard by your doctor by knowing good questions to ask, how to tell your story and what answers you nee
Aug 03, 2016 Fullfaun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great book, has a the back to help you tell the dr. what your health is,when it started, etc. Real life examples and the patient's thoughts . suggestions of what they could have said differently.
Jul 21, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not for everyone but medical care and health issues are a hobby of mine. I found this book to be well written, informative and it clearly points out how medical care needs to be more individualized. The over reliance on tests has gone overboard. Good common sense and a detailed history need to be restored. The emphasis on a doctor patient partnership is encouraged throughout the book.

Bravo to 2 fine authors and brilliant practitioners!
Dec 12, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wasn't sure where they were going to go with this book, but it turned out pretty good. Even though it's written to the patient, I would recommend it to anyone training to be a physician. The take-home message is "listen to the patient and focus on answering questions that will help them get to a real diagnosis, rather than just doing what's easiest in the moment". Focuses on creating a physician-patient partnership to improve diagnosis.
Mar 21, 2013 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than Critical Decisions if you are looking for specific exercises to help you become more assertive with your doctor without being agressive. Lots of anecdotal examples of bad patient/doctor interactions, with a follow-up on how they could have been handled differently. Of course, it all depends on having a doctor who is willing to discuss your issues with you and listen to what you believe your problems are...
Jul 20, 2016 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Read this book before your next doctors appointment.
This guide to better health care will teach you how to present your symptoms in the first eight seconds, stating the most important reason why you are there.
Most doctors are trained to diagnose conditions using algorithms, so it's imperative your information is accurate or the end results could be harmful.

I won this book on Goodreads.
The format is pretty accessible, and I like that it is more solution-focused rather than mere problem identification with some solutions haphazardly thrown into the concluding pages. It is not the most exuberantly written book in the world, but it's got some great tangible advice and Leana Wen definitely knows what she is talking about.
Oct 08, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by two doctors, this practical guide is for patients when going to a doctor's appointment. The most important chapter is Chapter 14 which has specific guidelines to promote effective conversation between the patient and doctor. It is not necessary to read the entire book to gain valuable knowledge.
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Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician at Brigham & Women's Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical fellow at Harvard. Inspired by her own childhood illness and then her mother's long battle with cancer, Dr. Wen is passionate about guiding patients to advocate for better care. A Rhodes Scholar, she graduated with distinction from the University of Oxford and Washington Universi ...more
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“It used to be that people went to their doctor to find out what was wrong. That was the expectation when someone made an appointment with their local family doctor: they wanted to know what they had and how they could feel better. Ear infection: what should I take? Pulled muscle: what should I do? Broken ankle: how can you fix it? Over the years, something happened to this common sense approach. “Algorithms” and “pathways” have proliferated in ways that have reduced each person’s unique story to simplistic recipes. More often than not, this cookbook approach ends up telling patients what they don’t have—which, while potentially reassuring, does not result in a real diagnosis.1” 0 likes
“Doctors end up adopting the role of automaton, following recipes and doing as directed, but no longer empowered to listen, to think, to diagnose, and to heal. Patients end up believing that their role is to help speed the checkbox ticking as quietly and as obediently as possible. Worse still, they begin to internalize that this is the best and only way to receive medical care.” 0 likes
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