What Doctors Cannot Tell You: Clarity, Confidence and Uncertainty in Medicine

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9780985245474: What Doctors Cannot Tell You: Clarity, Confidence and Uncertainty in Medicine

Almost 20 billion times each year, a person walks into a doctor's office.
The person becomes a patient.

Everyone becomes this patient at some point.
How will you talk to your physicians?

What will you tell them?
What will they tell you in return?

They can't tell you what they don't know.
They can tell you when they don't know.

Will they?

What Doctors Cannot Tell You explores the uncertainty that pervades medicine.
It breaks the code of silence within which too many physician-patient conversations take place.
The patients' stories in its pages will empower you to ask questions of your physicians,
with a firm belief that healing and hope begin from honesty in those critical conversations.

This book marries surgically precise medical narrative to thinking and perspective that will
throw the curtains wide on what medicine knows, what it doesn't know, and how it tries to tell the difference between the two.
This book is Outliers meets Patch Adams, only with an added how-to twist beyond the instructive and powerfully human narratives.
At every chapter's end, the reader will find a list of principles, one for each vignette, and questions to ask his or her physician.

A few books in the last decade have focused on human errors and complications in medicine.
Each has suggested ways to improve medicine by the application of checklists and protocols.
This book adds a unique and important angle to these considerations: How firmly do we know what should go on the checklist or protocol in the first place?
How clear has medicine been with its patients about what it cannot know or does not yet know?

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About the Author:

Kevin B. Jones has an undergraduate degree in English literature from Harvard University and received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins.
After training in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Iowa and in surgical musculoskeletal oncology at the University of Toronto, he settled in Salt Lake City with his wife and four children.
He performs cancer genetics research supported by the NIH and other cancer research foundations. He has authored over 50 scientific peer-reviewed articles.
He provides surgical care for cancer patients from all over the mountain west at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Primary Children's Medical Center, and the University of Utah.

Review:

In What Doctors Cannot Tell You, Dr. Jones dissects the very heart of the doctor-patient relationship.
This collection of stories engages, empowers and compels readers to improve their own conversations with medicine. --
----Richard Paul Evans, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Out in patientland, we still believe that doctors are all-knowing gods, each on his --- it's always 'his' --- own mountain. A particularly thorny case? Bring on Dr. House, the unshaven, anti-social genius from the TV series. So this account of real doctors struggling to find anything close to certainty will come as a revelation to civilians --- and, perhaps, to doctors as well. If I ever need surgery, I pray I find a doctor as humble, humane and honest as Kevin Jones. --Jesse Kornbluth, HeadButler.com

Anyone acquainted with the practice of medicine knows that uncertainty is a part of the game. Most of the time, a certain constellation of symptoms suggests a certain diagnosis. But might it not be another, with a different set of expectations for evaluation, prognosis and treatment? These layers of ambiguity do not accord well with the public stereotype of the physician confident, white-coated, a mere question or test away from the correct diagnosis and definitive treatment plan. Nor do most physicians routinely discuss with their patients their doubts or the gaps in their knowledge. In What Doctors Cannot Tell You: clarity, confidence and uncertainty in medicine, a book meant for physicians and patients alike, Dr. Kevin B. Jones addresses head on this issue of uncertainty in medicine. He states at the outset that his goal is to break the code of silence within which too many physician-patient conversations take place, to encourage frank discussion of what is known and unknown, knowable and unknowable in the process of making medical decisions. Perhaps the biggest obstacle in physician-patient communication is bridging the gap in knowledge and language between the doctor and the public. Jones faces a similar dilemma in trying to address his book to both groups. In striving to bridge the gap between physician and public, Jones relies on anecdotes to make science understandable. As a physician, What Doctors Cannot Tell You rings most true to me in its descriptions of the internal debates that face doctors to one degree or another in each patient interaction. This book deftly articulates the human struggle of what to tell and what to hold back. Jones may not give us clear answers, but he clearly wants to start the conversation. If lay readers find his writing as accessible as I think they will, he may just get his wish. In the best case, What Doctors Cannot Tell You will also provoke physicians to think critically about how to communicate with patients individually and how to open up the medical discussion to the public at large. --Michael Q. Potter, MD, Iowa Orthopaedic Journal

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