April 05, 2020

#BookReview: The Slippery Slope of Healthcare Steven Z. Kussin

Synopsis: Dr. Steven Kussin, physician and a pioneer in the Shared Decision movement, takes readers through the steps of how to avoid the many pitfalls of unnecessary and sometimes even dangerous medical care. The American healthcare system is subsidized by its services to healthy people. The goal as it is for any business is to encourage people to become consumers by creating an emotionally-fueled demand for things that are suddenly and urgently needed. It's hard to make healthy people well; it's easy to make them sick. Under the goal to make you even healthier, the medical industry identifies and encourages investigations and preventive technologies for 'problems' unlikely to occur, unlikely to harm, unlikely to benefit from testing, and, once diagnosed, unlikely to benefit from treatment. Profitable services go on indefinitely for those who are young and well. For the health care industry being in good health is not just the best way to live; good health is also the slowest way to die. 

Many people find themselves on what the author calls the Slippery Slope, experiencing a cascade of escalating misfortunes produced by more tests with incrementally greater risk, expense, and fewer benefits. Many people, who, in the attempt to improve what is already just fine, unquestioningly pay an immediate and visible price for what are distant, invisible, and uncertain benefits. The central starting point for initiating a Slippery Slope adventure can be the first blood test, the first screening test, the first x-ray, the first pill, or the first diagnosis that's accepted by unwitting and trusting consumers. The bottom of the Slippery Slope is occupied by those previously well but who now are damaged, and by others who suffered needless unscheduled deaths. America's famed consumer skepticism when judging retail products is curiously and dangerously absent in their interactions within the healthcare system. Here, Steven Kussin offers strategies that give readers knowledge and power by offering unique perspectives, information, and resources. He confronts the mighty forces arrayed against health care consumers and helps readers learn to identify them themselves. The power of money, the authority of science, the stature of physicians, the lure of elective health 'improvements', the promise of technology, and the pitch perfect, perfect pitches of televised ads all conspire to push people in directions that are often at odds with their stated priorities and interests. This book is dedicated to one lesson: The view from atop the Slope, before making a health care decision, is better than the view from the bottom, after having made a bad one.


Rating: ★★★★★
My Review: Arm yourself with the tools to making better health decisions. Be your own advocate and learn the tips to honestly learn what it takes to say no to a doctor who wants unnecessary tests and being able to help themselves and those they love.  This book was easy to understand for the most part and was just the right length. 

. . .an empowering compendium of health-care advice, focused on the pitfalls of overdiagnosis. Though Kussin places blame on health-care providers for pushing unnecessary care—and on patients for demanding it—he isn’t aiming for expos√© or outrage, but rather to arm readers with the tools for better decision making. . . . His affable, enthusiastic guide will leave readers feeling smart, informed, and better prepared for taking a nonalarmist and responsible approach to their own health.Publishers Weekly

Kussin advises that patients seek medical information from free, legitimate resources like MedPage Today and Medline Plus. We should also pay attention to which screening tests save lives, and be your own advocate. Before saying yes to what might seem like the latest miracle treatment, Kussin writes, think about “mighty forces” like the stature of doctors before saying “yes” to the latest exam or prescription. Cautionary and empowering.Booklist

This is one of the best healthcare books I've read in years: Clear, provocative, empowering and often funny, The Slippery Slope of Healthcare offers a much-needed dose of honesty in a healthcare industry that often confuses, bullies and overwhelms. You don't have to be a patient to pick up this book. This one should be read by anyone who's interested in learning how to be a good advocate for a loved one. -- Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post

Dr. Steven Z. Kussin is that extraordinary rarity: a writer on a professional, often technical, subject who writes in a clear, accessible, entertaining—and, of all things, witty—style. His new book, The Slippery Slope of Healthcare: Why Bad Things Happen to Healthy Patients and How to Avoid Them, is both a timely wake-up call on how to avoid the many pitfalls of unnecessary and sometimes even dangerous health "care," and a stylistic joy to read. "Much of our accumulated medical wisdom," he writes, "is out of date, out of the question, or created out of the blue by bad evidence." He thereby primes us for his critical analysis of much of today's "healthcare for the well." He also makes this reader say, "Man, I wish I had written that sentence!" After reading The Slippery Slope of Healthcare, you'll never think about medical advice in quite the same way again. -- Thomas Cathcart, co-author with Daniel Klein of the New York Times bestseller, “Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes”

Steven Kussin has written a truly funny and forthright book about a sad and serious reality – how healthy people are made to worry that they might be unhealthy and end up losing their health in the process. There is much to learn in this book about how to survive in the surprisingly evidence-free, pro-profit U.S. health care system populated by many doctors who don’t understand health statistics. -- Gerd Gigerenzer, Director, Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

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