March 24, 2008
The Secrets of Medical Decision Making:
Everyone needs to read this book. Everyone at some point in his or her life is going to be involved with what Reznik calls the “Health Care Machine.” This book should be read before you visit your doctor, have any procedures done, or make any medical decisions.
“The Secrets of Medical Decision Making” is not completely about secrets, but rather expresses the concerns the medical community now has about treating patients, and how those concerns have become less about the patient, and more about fear of being sued by patients, as well as dictated to by pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Patients are often subjected to many unnecessary tests and procedures because doctors feel they must cover all the bases just in case they are sued. Reznik gives several examples from his own experiences as a doctor where he and his colleagues have had to perform tests or procedures that were unnecessary and in some cases, gave patients unneeded extra stress or discomfort all in the quest to be thorough to protect the hospital and the medical profession.
Much of “The Secrets of Medical Decision Making” is just about common sense. Patients have a responsibility to use common sense and to keep their own best interests in mind when being treated by a doctor. In an age where surgeries are often outpatient and we are bombarded with information about new miracle pills that will resolve problems, patients are given false expectations that medicine can resolve nearly every health issue; consequently, patients are ready to sue when something goes wrong, when truthfully, they do not ask the appropriate questions about risks involved with procedures, and doctors do not provide their personal opinions unless asked because of restrictions imposed upon them by the medical and insurance systems.
What I found most interesting about “The Secrets of Medical Decision Making” was Reznik’s elaboration on the many unnecessary procedures and tests given, including colon and breast cancer screening. He takes a hard look at the statistics medicine uses to suggest that pre-screening can prevent cancer or increase lifespan. Reznik states patients must be more pro-active in asking their doctors about the necessity of many tests and how likely it is they will actually have the disease for which the screening is being performed. Patients also need to trust their own decisions because they know their own bodies better than their doctors, and they know what will make them most comfortable.
While at times, I found Reznik’s discussion a bit repetitious, I appreciated the summary he placed at the end of the book, breaking each of his main points into a paragraph with a subtitle so a person can quickly refer to it and remember which questions to ask before a visit with a physician.
“The Secrets of Medical Decision Making” is a book everyone will benefit from. Patients need to realize that modern medicine does not have the cure for everything—in fact, it can cure very little, and therefore, the patient must be largely responsible for his medical care and decisions. This book will help the patient have more control over his treatment and give him useful questions to ask his doctor. I intend to tell everyone I know in the medical professions, as well as everyone I know with health issues, about this book. Patients will save themselves many hours of wasted time, money and discomfort simply by spending a few hours reading “The Secrets of Medical Decision Making.”
- Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., author of The Marquette Trilogy
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