MWT Controversy – Health & Medicine

Atul Gawande: is a doctor and writer who believes our medical systems are broken and that while doctors are capable of extraordinary (and expensive) treatments – they are losing their core focus: actually treating people. As a surgeon by day and public health journalist by night, Atul Gawande explores how doctors can dramatically improve their practice using something as simple as a checklist.

Gawande is the author of three best-selling books. His most recent work is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, in which he argues that in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine often run counter to the interest of the human spirit.

Gawande is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, a MacArthur Fellowship, and two National Magazine Awards. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally.

In the last few years we realized we were in the deepest crisis of medicine’s existence due to something you don’t normally think about when you’re a doctor concerned with how you do good for people, which is the cost of health care. -Atul Gawande

Thoughts & Questions for Discussion:
• What prevents specialists from working together?
• Are we trapped in an increasingly dysfunctional system?
• 1 in 5 Americans ages 65+ say they had a medical problem but did not visit a doctor, skipped a recommended medical test or a treatment, did not fill a prescription or skipped doses of medication because of cost constraints. – Pew Research
• 1 in 3 American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition – Pew Research
• 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. care for someone with significant health issues – Pew Research
• Are we more than than our “chief complaint”?
• Is taking patient history a lost art?
• What if doctors had both an environmental and patient history checklist?
• What if doctors were required to conference before recommending tests or treatment?
• Time – what’s the rush to get patients in and out the door?
• Transparency – how much do you know about your doctor?
• Does your doctor share or at least respect your values?
• What incentives does your doctor get for referrals, paid speaking, or drug endorsements?
• Views on end of life care – Pew Research

Further Exploration:
• Rishi Manchanda TED Talk – What makes us get sick? Look Upstream
• Rishi Manchanda – The Upstream Doctors
• Leana Wen TED Talk – What your doctor won’t disclose
• Leana Wen – When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests

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