Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Unaccountable": Advocating For Transparency In Today's Healthcare System

Unaccountable, New York Times bestseller, by Dr. Marty Makary, a friend and surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital and an associate professor of health policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, is a must-read for all.

Dr. Makary is a passionate advocate of transparency- openness and accountability- arguing that this is the only way to create a more cohesive and coordinated healthcare system.  He clearly demonstrates the lengths to which physicians and hospitals go in order to conceal data regarding patient outcomes at their institutions and then passionately argues for statistics that are available and accessible to the public so that they can make the most educated decisions when it comes to their health care.

In his book, Dr. Makary tells the story of how in 1978 His Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, one of the most powerful and key figures to the US government suddenly fell ill and was admitted to the VIP floor of a renowned hospital in the Middle East.  In no time, a medical team including both David Rockefeller’s private doctor and Texas surgeon, Dr. Michael DeBakey, considered by many to be the world’s top surgeon rushed to tend to the Shah’s illness.  Dr. DeBakey’s recommendation was surgery to remove the Shah’s spleen as soon as possible.  Overconfident that his surgery would run smoothly, Dr. DeBakey did not take the standard precaution to place a surgical drain to prevent a known complication, which could lead to a fatal infection.  This negligence ultimately resulted in the death of the Shah.  Although Dr. DeBakey was heralded as one of the world’s best surgeons, his expertise was in cardiovascular, not abdominal surgery.   

How do you make an educated decision on which doctor or hospital is best to care for your needs whether it be a medical work-up or a surgical procedure?  How do you best navigate the system?  Dr. Makary thoughtfully and honestly sheds light on the best approaches to make these critical decisions. 

Unaccountable is an extraordinary book, written with passion and sincerity. Dr. Makary calls for reform that is much needed to reduce preventable medical errors, overtreatment, disjointed care and the “black-box” culture of medicine.

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