Book Reviews

Please also see the book reviews by noted experts in medicine, health policy, and consumer health.

The New York Times:
“…The authors, both emergency room physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, do a fine job of sorting through most of the serious problems in American medicine today, including the costs, overtesting, overprescribing, overlitigation and general depersonalization…

The book’s insights and cautionary tales should appeal to medical and lay readers alike: they combine into a superb analysis of how doctors listen and think, and offer detailed suggestions for how they could do both better.”

Wall Street Journal:
“When it comes to diagnosing illness, doctors may turn a deaf ear to some of the most critical information: what the patient has to say.

In "When Doctors Don't Listen," authors Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky, emergency physicians at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard University, urge patients to assert their voice. They warn that "a health care crisis is not the time to keep your mouth shut," but rather a critical time to speak up and be your own advocate….

To illustrate how things go awry, the authors offer anecdotes from their own emergency rooms, such as doctors who focused on cardiac issues for a woman who has fainted, when listening more carefully to her complaints might have quickly uncovered the real problem: a dangerous infection in her gall bladder.

They provide a wealth of tips at the end of each chapter for patients to help doctors arrive at an accurate diagnosis.”

Booklist Reviews:
“Physician-authors Drs. Wen and Kosowsky utilize true tales of patients treated in the emergency room to illustrate ‘how medicine has morphed from thoughtful engagement between doctors and patients to cookie-cutter recipes that regard all individuals alike.’ The authors argue that such a cookbook methodology can be hazardous…. Sound suggestions for improving diagnosis abound. For patients, become active participants in the process. For physicians, take time and listen.”

Kirkus Reviews:
"Managed care has put pressure on doctors to do the most work in the smallest amount of time possible, and even the best-intentioned of physicians can fall prey to corner cutting and misdiagnoses. Doctors Wen and Kosowsky suggest change can come from the ground up by making sure patients and clients are more directive in managing how their interactions progress.... As health care becomes more complex and political, this book provides clear direction toward better care."

Publishers Weekly:
“Doctors Wen and Kosowsky nudge the medical “consumer empowerment movement” forward with this provocative dialogic guide to help patients get the right diagnosis and treatment while avoiding the pitfalls of formulaic “cookbook” medicine…. Theirs is an urgent call to action for patients, and a stark heads-up for doctors and the troubled healthcare industry they serve.

Narrative Network:
“I enthusiastically agree with blogger/writer, Deborah Kotz in her recent review of Drs. Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky’s patient empowering book, When Doctors Don’t Listen How To Avoid Misdiagnosis and Unnecessary Tests. Kotz writes, “I always admire doctors who can write books criticizing their own profession, including any shortcomings they may have as practitioners – in an effort to improve patient care.”

Wen and Kosowsky restore our faith in good and effective medicine that can and should be practiced. In so many ways I champion them for their important contribution to the rehumanization of medicine in the same way as patient narratives.”

Phi Kappa Phi Forum:
“Prominent doctors praise this work… as a ‘powerful appeal for individualized medical evaluation based on an active partnership between doctors and patients’ and ‘a wake-up call to move beyond cookbook American medicine.’”

Mother Nature News:
“…The doctors offer actionable steps readers can take toward being ‘better patients’ as well as working to pressure doctors into providing better care — steering the conversation away from close-ended questions, insisting on both explanations for recommended tests and exploring alternatives, and making yourself an active partner in reaching a differential diagnosis. In addition to detailed guidance on how to avoid misdiagnosis, the doctors condense their suggestions into what they call the ‘8 Pillars to Better Diagnosis,’ a list that they recommend patients study and practice working from before they visit the doctor’s office, emergency room or hospital. Finally, the appendices include exercises, worksheets and a glossary of key terms to further empower patients. By encouraging patients to engage with their doctors as partners in their diagnosis and giving them the tools to do so, this essential guide enables patients to speak up and regain control of their health care.”
“This is a brave, insightful book by a Harvard doctor. Traditionally, patients are told they have to be passive participants in their care, and doctors have to be the drivers. However, with increasing demands on doctors' time and the advent of "cookbook medicine", patients have to take the initiative to take control of their health.

Through engaging anecdotes,
When Doctors Don't Listen makes the case for patients to be active partners in their care. It's more than a "big think" book, though: much of the book focuses on specific how-tos: how to get your doctors to listen, how to help your doctor get to your diagnosis, how to get the care that you deserve, and much more.

As a patient, I find this information to be invaluable. I'll definitely use it the next time I see my doctor. I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever been dissatisfied with their healthcare and wants to make it better. …

This is a must-read book. The stories are entertaining and well-written, and the lessons are to-the-point and practical. I've changed my interactions with my doctors as a result of this book.”

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