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How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America Essay

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Updated: May 12th, 2022

There is undoubtedly a variety of underlying truths regarding the medical sector in the US and bitter realities which are kept away from patients and the public. The untold economics of medicine and the profit and loss industry that has been established by economists of the medical sector is becoming the reason for many conflicts between the medical sector and patients. The medical sector in the US is facing serious conflicts and issues. This paper will review and analyze these issues as discussed in ‘How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America’ written by Otis Webb Browley and Paul Goldberg. Moreover, the reason why I have chosen this book for review is also presented in this paper.

However, many books on the medical sector of the US have been published so far, but not a single one of them has covered issues as they are discussed and presented in this chosen one. This book has very interestingly depicted the underbelly of the medical sector existing at present. It has many interesting facts which made me select this book such as the royal or over treatment of the upper class while under or insufficient treatment of the poor class. The conflicts in the health industry arise as a result of differences in care and custody doctors and healthcare professionals are providing to patients and the medical economy which is run by hospitals, insurance, and pharmaceuticals companies. I have found the writer of this book very realistic and logical in every point that he has provided in this book. His assumptions and assessments on the medical sector of the US are very pragmatic.

The key writer of this book is Otis Webb Browley along with Paul Goldberg. Doctor Browley is the Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society, he is also MD and the chief medical and scientific officer there. He teaches oncology at the University of Emory. Other than oncology, he also teaches hematology, epidemiology, and medicine. Dr. Browley was a student at the Pritzker School of Medicine, the University of Chicago and this is from where he graduated. While at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, he completed his residency in internal medicine. He has also completed a fellowship from the National Cancer Institute in medical oncology. A huge part of the book comprises examples that he has given from what he has experienced so far in his medical career history. He has greatly emphasized the fact that the present medical practices completely diverge from the medical ethics set. According to the facts, he has mentioned in the book, it is believed that Americans are becoming sick in an economic sense despite the government is spending twice the amount of the annual budget on healthcare as compared to Canada, but the country is still listed on no.50, whereas Canada is on no.07 on the world ranking. Another interesting fact about this book is that after reading this book readers will get to know before going to a clinic or hospital what should they be aware of and what likely they should do. Moreover, it is discussed that extra treatment is not always good; it is merely a tool to make money. Sometimes extra treatment can be dangerous and harmful for the patients. If we compare the scenario of Wall Street with the case of the US medical sector: it can be easily assessed that it also has roots in voracity.

The payments made by insurance firms are totally in disagreement with the mentioned payment on the bill provided to the customer. In some cases, insurance companies pay a little more than the decided amount and patients have to spend the rest of their lives repaying debts and interests, or else they face bankruptcy.

This book is easy to read and understand as the language used is straightforward. Dr. Brawley has focused majorly on the over- everything culture which is becoming common in the US – overtreatment, overdiagnosis, over screening, and overcompensation which is given to doctors by pharmaceutical companies. The book just tells about the hidden truths and what is actually happening at present in the medical sector. To me, the actual strength of the book is where Brawley has covered the cancer industry and the death casualties that are the consequence of its failure. As he writes:

“I empathize with a patient who views an unproven procedure as her only hope for living longer, but I have nothing but contempt for a medical practitioner who labels bullshit ‘hope’ and profits handsomely from it. It’s possible to have innovation and quality and access and lower costs. There is no need to choose” (Brawley & Goldberg, 2012, p.24).

According to Brawley if the medical sector was seriously dedicated and was faithful to science then those who were and are involved could have improved the standards of medical practices and would have made them according to the ethics and equal for all, regardless of their race, color, wealth and education. If such a situation is created, then only medical practices will not be viewed as merely a tool for economic growth (Brawley & Goldberg, 2012).

This book is undoubtedly a great guide for people and the healthcare sector too. The people will get to know how much extra they pay even if they are sick or not; doctors make them sick and treat them even if they are not ill or suffering. The doctors can advocate more effectively and patients can be aware of what is going around and how to respond. People after reading this book will likely be aware of the tactics adopted by pharmaceutical and insurance companies. The authors have completely covered the economical and structural setup of the American healthcare sector (Wall, 2012).

It can be then concluded after reading the book that the American medical sector stands on the economy encouraged structure which is greedy to the core and is justified on the basis of profits and loss rather than customer / patient care and the level of healthcare practices provided to individuals. This book provides a number of ‘patients get aware’ points and stories. This is the reason which enables people to conduct their own research and become more aware of the system. This book tells people that it is time that they should raise their voice and speaks against the biased system and that health inequities should be addressed immediately, and patients need a precautionary approach toward environmental health. Because of this nonserious and economic benefits-driven system, many precious lives have been ravaged because of cancer. It, thus, becomes helpful for people through this book that they should raise their voice and should no longer claim unawareness as the truth is apparent to the public.

Reference List

Brawley, O. W., & Goldberg, P. (2012). How we do harm: A doctor breaks ranks about being sick in america. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Wall, A. (2012). Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America." May 12, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-we-do-harm-a-doctor-breaks-ranks-about-being-sick-in-america/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America'. 12 May.

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