Tuesday 22 February 2022

Book review: Hippocrasy: how doctors are betraying their oath

Always hard reviewing your own book, so I have pasted comments from others below. The book expands on previous themes in my first book: Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo but applies them to medicine in general. It explains the problems with modern medicine but instead of blaming everyone else (industry, Big Pharma, insurers etc.) we focus on doctors and their role in creating a society that is over-dependent on an expensive medical system that often either doesn't help or harms those it touches.

To help navigate the world outside surgery, I had a co-author, Rachelle Buchbinder who is a rheumatologist, Professor of Epidemiology and a leading international academic with over 1,000 publications (including over 100 Cochrane reviews) and over a hundred thousand citations. The book was written for health professionals, the health industry and the general public. It was drafted during an academic writing residency at the Bellagio Centre funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2018 and made it to stores in October 2021.

The book can be found in bookstores in Australia and online (e.g., Amazon) anywhere.

Here are the reviews that can be found on the publishers website (NewSouth Publishing):

'One of the hardest things for a doctor to do ... is nothing. This superb book explains how in medicine and surgery less is often not just more, it’s closer to the oath we’re all supposed to practise by.' — Norman Swan, award-winning producer and broadcaster of the Health Report and Coronacast

'This eye-opening and enthralling book on the medical and moral hazards which beset the health profession is a must-read for patients and practitioners alike. From ‘tooth-fairy science’ to medical disasters to the inflated business world of medicine, Hippocrasy is a profoundly thought-provoking and compelling work that challenges our perception of the practice of modern medicine.' — Kate McClymont AM, award-winning investigative journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age

'Doctors are educated to do good. Yet, as the commercial imperatives of the medical industrial complex tighten their grip, doctors are becoming more and more worried that they are inflicting harm rather than creating benefit. This book is for them and, perhaps even more importantly, for their patients. The road to hell is paved with good intentions: read Hippocrasy and turn back.' — Iona Heath CBE, former President, The Royal College of General Practitioners

'This brilliant book offers clear and compelling evidence that we’re all at risk from too much medicine. Using the best of science, these two respected doctors blow the whistle on harmful healthcare. Buchbinder and Harris reveal how overdiagnosis, overtreatment and the medicalisation of normal life are major threats to human health. But this brilliant book also brings hope that we can wind back the harm and waste of unnecessary tests and treatments, and focus more on the great benefits medicine has to offer.' — Ray Moynihan, author of Too Much Medicine? and Selling Sickness, Assistant Professor, Bond University

'About half of us in advantaged countries are now patients or ‘providers’, or both, and a third of clinical interventions are futile at best. Seeking health is daunting and we could benefit from a guide. Rachelle Buchbinder and Ian Harris have provided such with this volume.' — Nortin M Hadler, author of The Last Well PersonThe Citizen Patient and Worried Sick, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology, University of North Carolina

'Throughout medical history, doctors have routinely ignored the fundamental Hippocratic injunction: ‘First, do no harm’. Most of their treatments produced lots of harms, with little or no benefit. This wonderful book punctures the hyped claims of modern medicine, showing that it is not nearly as scientific, safe, effective, and honest as it should be. Reading Hippocrasy is essential for doctors (to help make them become more cautious); but even more essential for patients (to help them become more self-protective).' — Allen Frances, author of Saving Normal, Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine

'A timely book from two leading doctors. They present evidence that despite medicine’s lip-service to evidence-based medicine, many unnecessary, wasteful and harmful investigations and treatments abound. Increasingly, the healthy are re-defined as having ‘predisease’ and drawn into questionable investigations and monitoring programmes. The book’s core message is that medicine’s hubris and a creeping scientism has come to overshadow the doctor’s commitment to care for and comfort their patients and, above all, do no harm. It is time to step back from the brink and revisit the founding principles and core values of our profession.' — Trish Greenhalgh OBE, Professor of Primary Care Research, University of Oxford

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