Doctored : the disillusionment of an American physician

From Margaret Mezzacapo

Author:  Sandeep  Jauhar

Title:  Doctored : the disillusionment of an American physician  

Sandy Jauhar, author of the bestseller  Intern, has now become a physician in private practice, and quickly finds out that medicine is being practiced in a way that is totally unexpected to him.  As with so many other things, the drive for the almighty dollar pervades the conditions under which he functions. He just wants to practice medicine, but realizes that he needs to perfect social skills so he can get along with his fellow physicians and thus generate referrals and other economic avenues.  Add in a wife, a physician herself , who seems to personify the term “money-hungry,” and Jauhar finds himself immensely impacted by stress, and questioning his own abilities. This is an interesting look into the reality of today’s medical world.

Summer house with swimming pool : a novel

From  Catherine Given

 Author:  Herman Koch

 Title:  Summer house with swimming pool : a novel

This is a gritty and disturbing Whodunit, but so much more. It could be subtitled, “Why bad things happen to bad Dads and their children.”

SHWSP begins calmly as the main character, Marc, a married general practitioner, reveals to us the shocking thoughts and fantasies behind his bland façade, as he examines and advises his patients.  He then plans his family’s summer by the sea, to provide himself a chance to see a friend’s wife, whom he fancies. He, his wife and two daughters, a young teen and a “tween,” camp in a beach tent in the friends’ neighborhood and then accept that family’s “surprise” invitation to stay at their summer house. Tension builds quickly as we realize the diabolical and misogynistic nature of several characters there. These menacing characters, as well as Marc and his family, become caught up in a series of creepy, disturbing events. I couldn’t put it down.

God’s hotel : a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine

From Chris Garland
Author:  Victoria Sweet
Title:  God’s hotel : a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine
Victoria Sweet chronicles her experience as a physician at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital which is cited as the last almshouse in the U.S.  The almshouse was a place of refuge, housing people who were chronically ill or impoverished with no place else to go. Many times Dr. Sweet’s patients would come to Laguna Honda with an incorrect diagnosis from the county hospital, because the patients were not carefully examined.  These diagnoses would lead to bad treatment and the patients getting sicker.   Dr. Sweet asserts that modern medical treatment relies too much on tests, x-rays and less on the doctor’s physical examination of the patient. The reason is money. Doctors are paid by the amount of patients they see, so examinations must be quick to maintain financial viability.  As a result, efficiency and managing disease are stressed over treatment that is more hands on with the doctor. Working at Laguna Honda,  Dr. Sweet had the luxury to practice what she calls slow medicine which is just taking the time to talk to and examine and even re-examine a patient; to consult other doctors, to go over lab tests and X-rays, to think about a diagnosis, to discontinue medications that are no longer needed, and to try a new medication—but carefully.   Dr. Sweet feels that slow medicine is efficient because it’s about restoring health not managing disease, and saves money. The current fast medicine practiced in the U.S. is very expensive and the outcomes for patients are worse.

The author discusses how her studies of ancient medicine influenced her work, specifically the twelfth-century mystic and nun Hildegarde of Bingen who wrote a practical medical text. Sweet even applied some of Hildegarde’s methods to her patients when she ran out of modern medical tools. She would say to herself “What would Hildegarde do?” To the best of her ability, she would consult Hildegarde’s texts and apply the treatment to her patients, and for the most part she had positive results. Dr. Sweet beautifully highlights how the Laguna Honda almshouse gave her the opportunity to learn about ancient and modern medicine, and ideas to improve healthcare.

One doctor : close calls, cold cases, and the mysteries of medicine

From Margaret Mezzacapoa
Author: Brendan Reilly
Title: One doctor : close calls, cold cases, and the mysteries of medicine
Dr. Reilly describes his personal medical care (including a stint at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, the setting and inspiration for the TV show, “E.R.”). He also relates case histories of patients he has cared for. His stories are succinct and interesting, interspersed with his opinions on our current healthcare system. On occasion, he’ll use medical terminology and jargon, but fear not – he explains everything thoroughly. It’s an entertaining read that provides food for thought.