Sally's Reviews > How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America

How We Do Harm by Otis Webb Brawley
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's review
Mar 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: medicine, social-justice-action

A prominent doctor provides a sobering inside perspective on problems with the American medical system and important questions ordinary people should ask when involved with this system. For each topic he begins with the stories of patients and his own experiences, and then analyzes why faulty outcomes are happening. These include people without insurance or access to the medical system except emergency rooms; doctors, industries and medical specialties driven by the profit motive (the more treatment and drugs given each patient, the more money these players make); patients who demand too much or the wrong type of treatment; screenings at health fairs that often lead to inappropriate or unnecessary treatment of those screened (such screenings often are sponsored by companies which benefit financially from patient treatment; when you're offered something for free then you're the product being "sold"), etc. For example, he points out that treatment protocols are usually written or financed by those who will benefit financially if that protocol is followed; anyone can publish such a protocol without it representing the totality of scientific findings/studies in the field. Searching the web to find information to help you make a medical decision is often useless because much of the information is not authoritative science, and much is misleading. He gives the web address of the one group he believes makes objective scientific protocols about screenings with no financial stake involved:

His concluding assessment is damning: "The system is not failing. It's functioning exactly as designed. It's designed to run up health-care costs. It's about the greedy serving the gluttonous. Americans consume more health care per capita than the people of any other country.... We desperately need to focus on rational consumption of health care. Much of the money currently spent on health care is money wasted on unnecessary and harmful, sick care. Even for the sick, a lot of necessary care in not given at the appropriate time. The result is more expensive care given later.... The bad actors include doctors and health-care providers, hospitals, drug and device manufacturers, insurance companies, lawyers, and patients... three evils have infected American medicine: apathy, ignorance, and greed." This book is an attempt to alert people on a grassroots level to be appropriately skeptical of the system and to work intelligently toward changing it to one that serves the interests of the populace rather than of those currently profiting at the public's expense.
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message 1: by Eduardo (new) - added it

Eduardo Santiago Recommended along similar lines: Overtreated, by Shannon Brownlee.

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