Monday, February 2, 2015

HowWeDoHarm

I recently read How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America by physician Otis Brawley (2011).  



OB scathingly indicts the American healthcare (sickcare?) system as we know it.  Dr. Brawley is not a fringe lunatic, either; he is a highly respected academic-physician and has impeccable credentials.  The concerns he raises come from a deep understanding of our healthcare system and its dysfunctional nature.  

Some of my big takeaways:

  • Many (if not most) physicians are trained to treat symptoms, not discern and treat root causes.
  • Americans spend 2.5 times as much on healthcare as we do on food.
  • Many who get "caught" in the system suffer from a cascade of testing, analyses, diagnoses, and interventions, that may or may not be related to their initial complaint.
  • The health care system has become more about making money for the physicians, the pharmaceutical companies, and the healthcare industry than it is about restoring our health.
  • If you are suffering from some catastrophic illness/malady, the system will eventually bleed you dry (literally and figuratively), then kick you out (unless, of course, you can afford to pay out of your own pocket without end).
  • The industry as a whole has forsaken the concept of "the benefit must outweigh the harm."
My favorite quote:  
"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." (p. 280)  

This book was (another) real eye-opener for me.  Raised my level of wariness several notches (and I was already way up there on the lack-of-trust-in-the-system scale).  




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