Surviving Your Doctors: Why the Medical System Is Dangerous to Your Health and How to Get Through It Alive
By: Richard S. Klein, M.D.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication Date: January 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 15, 2010
Think of all the times you've heard about someone who died in the hospital from an avoidable error. Perhaps it is someone you knew personally or, if you are a medical news junkie you may have read about Jesica Santillan. She was a child who received a heart and lung transplant at the prestigious Duke University Hospital. Unfortunately, the transplant organs were of the wrong blood type and instead of growing up to be a vibrant young woman she died because of a tragic mistake. This example was not in the book, but I think you get the picture. More than 100,000 people die in the United States alone due to simple and avoidable mistakes made in the medical community. We as individuals need to be proactive medical consumers and this is the major theme of this book. Quit being so complacent and wake up . . . or literally die!
Most of us are under the impression that we have one of the most advanced medical systems in the world, but this is simply not so. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) we are "ranked thirty-seventh in the world in regard to delivery of health care service." (p. 60) If you've ever had to tangle with serious illness you can well relate to this statement. The hurdle jumping to receive good care can be disheartening in the least. Have you ever had to wait for someone in an office in some outsourced job to decided whether or not you can have a CAT scan that could be critical to your well being? If so this book is going to hit home. Even if you haven't, you're going to be heavily drawn to Dr. Klein's sage advice.
In this very candid book, one in which Dr. Klein's graciously admits his own mistakes, you are going to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones. You'll hear plenty of horror stories, but you'll also learn how to structure your approach to your own medical care in a way that will make you live longer and better. In a nutshell, you'll get "prescriptions" and learn how to choose a doctor, how to deal with insurance companies, what to do if you end up in the emergency room, you'll be encouraged to Google, you'll learn how to pick a pediatrician for your children, you'll learn about working with your pharmacy, you'll learn which tests you'll want to insist on having, you'll get a mini course on cardiac care, you'll get a crash course on infectious diseases and much more!
I was very interested in reading this book because a member of my immediate family went into a coma and almost died from a medical mistake. This book does give many examples of horror stories, including the all too true "summer horror stories" when training staffs rotate or start. The most important thing I came away with after reading was this book gives a lot of advice on how to avoid being one of those statistics. Mind you, much of this information is very compact and almost glossed over, but the most salient parts are included in each section. This is not a medical encyclopedia and was not intended to be, nor an excuse for not cooperating with your physician. I feel much of this advice will help my family stay safe and not end up in the nightmare we once found ourselves many years ago.
Quill says: With Dr. Klein's help, you will feel a lot safer…after reading this book I'm going to sleep a lot easier!