With our health care system both dysfunctional and constantly changing, how can doctors actually keep us healthy and safe?
The spread of COVID-19 has brought the lives of doctors into sharper focus than ever before. We now see how the daily work of making important, even life-and-death decisions is frequently made harder. Hospitals and medical offices face budget problems, the influence of big pharmaceutical and insurance companies, as well as stress and long hours and massive amounts of bureaucracy and paperwork. And that was before the pandemic.
In this important book, Dr. Robert Pearl–the former CEO of Permanente and a Stanford professor–shows how all these stresses have led to a toxic culture in medicine. Doctors resist change, leading to important clerical mistakes. They don’t offer equal treatment to nonwhite patients. Their competitive work ethic leads to burnout and bad decisions. All these mistakes can be and frequently are matters of life and death.
As we engage in a public debate about the appropriate role of government, technology, big pharma and insurance companies in our health care, we’ve paid little attention to what it actually feels like to be a doctor. In our rush to express gratitude for “frontline” doctors, we are also neglecting their humanity, for better and worse. If we want to improve medical outcomes, for doctors and patients alike, we need to start seeing health care professionals as the real and flawed human beings they actually are. Uncaring is a breakthrough book that draws just such a portrait, and offers a prescription for a safer and healthier system.