EXAMINE YOUR DOCTOR: A Patient's Guide to Avoiding Medical Mishaps by

EXAMINE YOUR DOCTOR: A Patient's Guide to Avoiding Medical Mishaps

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Exactly what malpractice is, and in which situations it's most likely to occur: from the unusual perspective of a physician whose father died when his critical illness was misdiagnosed. Kra has two, sometimes conflicting messages: ""the majority of malpractice claims are unjustified and are the work of greedy and angry patients""; still, errors are sometimes made in the practice of medicine and surgery that may be harmful to the patient. He sets out, then, to explain ""the criteria according to which medicine is practiced by most physicians today""--so that patients can evaluate proposed and completed treatment, and thus the possibilities for successfully bringing malpractice charges. Among the areas where real malpractice is apt to occur, he identifies pre- and post-operative care, gall bladder disease, appendicitis, breast disorders, urological disease, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic disorders, and abdominal ""catastrophes."" (HIS father died when a rupturing abdominal aortic aneurysm--a surgical emergency--was misdiagnosed as a heart attack.) For each of these, he describes optimid care (by far the norm, he insists)--and then, with illustrative horror cases, what can go wrong. Ultimately, Kra's ambivalence is somewhat confusing: though the book as a whole is patient-directed, some of the text is M.D.-oriented (""a physician should suspect an organic basis. . .""), while some is just resigned (""the diagnosis of a headache originating in a brain tumor is extremely difficult, but, then again, whoever said that the practice of medicine is easy""). Since guides abound for those facing immediate choices (including Kra's own Is Surgery Necessary?), perhaps this manual's key message is its confusion. Medicine is more art than science, lira convinces us; armed with knowledge, we can try to put ourselves in the hands of a competent artist--keeping an eye open for mistakes.

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1982
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin