Hansen’s debut looks at America’s health care system, describing its problems and offering solutions.
The author, a physician for 35 years, brings his perspective to what he calls the “witches’ brew” of medicine. Despite the vast sums this country spends on health care, he writes, our society still produces less-than-commendable health outcomes. Many of the system’s woes, Hansen asserts, are caused by “technophysicians...who only see the color of money,” and who are overwhelmed by the lure of expensive procedures. Their influence, he writes, has been abetted by the availability of sophisticated technology. He faults the marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry, the failure of hospitals and physicians to discipline medical wrongdoing, and the lack of empathy for patients. The author also cites the rise of HMOs and managed care, which he believes are no better than the traditional fee-for-service model. Unlike most recent health-care books, which advocate a single-payer system, Hansen instead argues for a change in medical education. He writes that “spiritualism,” defined as a “higher power” to “help us find answers, serenity, and peace,” should be a tool used by “physician educators.” His own medical education, he says, caused him to be “locked into a textbook,” but he had a crucial experience during his internship—he watched a caring doctor engage directly with a seriously ill woman. Indeed, the most compelling parts of this book are the case histories of actual patients, and the author uses each story to illustrate a particular flaw in the practice of medicine. Overall, although some of the background material in this book might have been better condensed, readers will likely find the patients’ stories consistently engrossing.
A novel prescription for America’s medical establishment.