Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Jerome Groopman questions the thought process and abilities of those heroes we call doctor in this compilation of interviews, personally experiences and think sessions with other doctors.
They talk about patients with whom they've had success and patients whom they've failed. They discuss what they do right and what they do wrong with the hopes of teaching new doctors to be better critical thinkers, keep patients better informed, and let all of us out there know medicine is an imperfect science and things don't always work out perfectly. You know I got this book for selfish reasons. I'm a new poster here so for those of you who don't know...everyone, I'm married to an MD/PhD student who is in his fifth year of professional schooling. Hopefully we only have two more to go. When I saw this book I knew I had to have it because I wanted a little extra clue on what was going on in the mind of Dr. J (my pet name for my DH). The positives on marrying someone smarter is you are never bored but I have to keep all my wits about me if I want to keep up and so I often find myself using "cheats" to help me along. Twenty pages into the book though I was struck by three things. Firstly, this book was just as much for Dr. J as it was for me. Here was a book with seasoned MDs, brilliant contributors in their fields saying, "Gee after 25 years this is what I wish I would have known or these are the red flags I keep in place for myself to try and prevent mistakes in areas I know I'm weak." This of course meant I spent the majority of the book saying, "Honey listen to this." One of my favorite passages involves the personal experience of Dr. Groopman as he travels through the medical field trying to get a damaged right wrist cared for. Five doctors later he finally has a diagnosis and a "solution" but the journey is fascinating and he explains where he and each professional were correct or incorrect as the case may be. It was very helpful for the aspiring young medical mind, so if you know a doctor or a student in medical school this book would be far more helpful then the "How to be a doctor with heart books" my husbands medical school keeps trying to fork over on him. Secondly I realized this book would have been extremely helpful to have read before I had that whole nasty incident with appendicitis last year. Maybe I would have been able to say to the first ER doctor who originally checked me out, "Yes I realize you think I have a swollen lymph node but since the probability is much stronger I have appendicitis maybe we should do a scan to check that out, especially since my white blood cell count is so high. Just sayings these things happen is not good enough for me. Lets think about what other body parts might be in this part of my body shall we...again like the appendix." It might have saved me that whole getting sent home with a "swollen lymph node" and having my appendix burst leading to an emergency surgery and a lovely drain hanging out of my body for a week. Dr. Groopman gives you helpful hints on how to get your doctor to take you seriously and questions to ask to get your doctor thinking on a more productive path. Thirdly this book really is just an interesting ethnography on decision making and critical thinking. It is only 336 pages of very interesting stories so it feels much more like a lazy afternoon read then a dull textbook which I guess after all was the point. In my opinion VERY READABLE!

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