Recently, I had a conversation with Shannon Brownlee (the widely respected science journalist and acting director of the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation) about whether men should continue to have access to the PSA test for prostate cancer screening, despite the overwhelming evidence that it extends few, if any, lives and harms many more men than it benefits. She felt that if patients could be provided with truly unbiased information and appropriate decision aids, they should still be able to choose to have the test (and have it covered by medical insurance). Believing that one of the most important roles of doctors is to prevent patients from making bad decisions, I disagreed.
After reading Your Medical Mind, the new book by Harvard oncologist and New Yorker columnist Jerome Groopman, I think he would probably side with Brownlee’s point of view. Groopman, whose authoring credits include the 2007 bestseller How Doctors Think, and wife Pamela Hartzband, MD have written a kind of sequel to that book that could have easily been titled How Patients Think. Drawing on interviews with dozens of patients about a wide variety of medical decisions – from starting a cholesterol-lowering drug, to having knee surgery, to accepting or refusing heroic end-of-life interventions – the authors Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Common Sense Family Doctor*
I have had the privilege of working at an organization which is actively improving the lives of its members and also was mentioned by the President as a model for the nation. Over the past few years, I have also demonstrated to first year medical students what 21st century primary care should look and feel like – a fully comprehensive medical record, secure email to patients, support from specialists, and assistance from chronic conditions staff.
But as my students know, there are also some suggested reading assignments. I’m not talking about Harrison’s or other more traditional textbooks related to medical education. If the United States is to have a viable and functioning health care system, then it will need every single physician to be engaged and involved. I’m not just helping train the next group of doctors (and hopefully primary care doctors), but the next generation of physician leaders.
Here are the books listed in order of recommended reading, from easiest to most difficult. Combined these books offer an understanding the complexity of the problem, the importance of language in diagnosing a patient, the mindset that we can do better, and the solution to fixing the health care system.
Which additional books or articles do you think current and future doctors should know?
Overtreated – Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*
The Times ran an intriguing experiment on its Well blog yesterday: a medical problem-solving contest. The challenge, based on the story of a real girl who lives near Philadelphia, drew 1379 posted comments and closed this morning with publication of the answer.
Dr. Lisa Sanders, who moderated the piece, says today that the first submitted correct response came from a California physician; the second came from a Minnesota woman who is not a physician. Evidently she recognized the condition’s manifestations from her experience working with people who have it.
The public contest – and even the concept of using the word “contest” – to solve a real person’s medical condition interests me a lot. This kind of puzzle is, as far as I know, unprecedented apart from the somewhat removed domains of doctors’ journals and on-line platforms intended for physicians, medical school problem-based learning cases, clinical pathological conferences (CPC’s) and fictional TV shows. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*
If you want to see the difference between how doctors and patients think, read Jerome Groopman’s “How Doctors Think” and Thomas Goetz’s “The Decision Tree.” The contrast is striking.
“How Doctors Think,” while offering a comprehensive review of the cognitive missteps made by physicians, is terminally physician-centric in its analysis of the relationship we share with patients. “The Decision Tree,” while offering a novel blueprint for self-reliance in health, seems almost sheepish in its recognition that physicians are even really that important. The muted physician cameos of “The Decision Tree” stand in stark contrast to Groopman’s Harvard-trained masters of the universe. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*