Free «Review of How We Do Harm by Otis Webb Brawley» Essay Sample

Dr. Brawley in his book, How We Do Harm successfully highlights issues related to health care in America. Health care has been dealt with by a number of doctors, documentary film-makers (such as Michael Moore) etc. However, in this case Dr. Brawley presents his readers with not only an insight into health care problems but also portrays how insurance companies and patients harm themselves. This was the main reason for selecting this book; we as humans tend to place the blame on others. Nevertheless, Dr. Brawley makes the readers see how they are as much to blame as the health care providers and doctors. Thus, Dr. Brawley helps to pinpoint the multidimensional issues related to American health. Dr. Brawley is in a very viable position to make these assertions as he is not only a senior medical practitioner but supports his assumptions with scientific facts.

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In order to convey his point of view, Dr. Brawley presents the case of Eddna Riggs who arrives to the emergency room of Grady hospital. According to Dr. Brawley, her cancer has been developing since nine years. This points to the fact that the American public is detrimental to its health. Patients are either uninformed or they are incognizant of how severe their problems are. A case in point is presented by Michael Moore in his documentary film, entitled Sicko; Adam is one of many Americans who do not have health insurance and as a result he has to stitch up a wound that he received during an accident with an unsterilized needle and thread. Such a method of treating a wound can only lead to infection and extreme pain. This supports Dr. Brawley’s hypothesis of patients not being careful, as Dr. Brawley (2012) writes, “but we can beat breast cancer only when it’s caught early” (p.8). The difference between Dr. Brawley’s book and Moore’s film is that Moore focuses on how health care has affected patients’ ability to cope with their medical issues whereas Dr. Brawley presents a more subjective view of the patients which deal with not only the health care issues but also the reasons leading to these health care issues which are based on insurance, personal choices etc.

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One aspect in which Moore and Brawley’s researches coincide is that of insurance. Dr. Brawley (2012) puts it in the following terms: “Here is the problem: Poor Americans consume too little health care, especially preventive health care. Other Americans – often rich Americans – consume too much health care, often unwisely, and sometimes to their detriment” (p.10). Thus, the higher societal class is availing more than its share of health care. This statement encapsulates what Michael Moore has tried to portray, namely: “This is Lenny, who at 79, has Medicaire but it doesn’t cover the cost of the drugs him and his wife need” (Sicko, 2007). Thus, most Americans are either uninsured or have insufficient health coverage. As Arthur Garson Jr. (2010) puts it, “Ten years ago, the US health care system was declared “broken,” and it has not improved. Nearly 45 million Americans are uninsured” (“The US Healthcare System 2010 Problems, Principles, and Potential Solutions,” part 1). When the rich use too much health insurance that will rationally mean that there will be less leftover for the poorer class.

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This book has far reaching reformative power. As the title itself indicates, How We Do Harm, it is not just about how we are harmed, but the way in which we harm ourselves through insufficient information as well as how ‘we’ including not only the public but the health care industry as well harms patients. Another one of Brawley’s arguments, namely, that of how new fangled medicine doing more harm than good is corroborated by my personal experience. My neighbor, John, was diagnosed with liver cancer and was given a newly developed medicine. The liver cancer was treated but he developed a variety of side effects such as spasms, immobility of various body parts etc. Thus, insufficient information with respect to either the diagnosis or the medicine at hand leads to fatal and irreversible damage.

Dr. Brawley’s book is a breakthrough in medical literature as it will bring about a number of changes such as patient’s awareness. It will also emphasize problems caused by health care (related to not having any/insufficient health care to having too much health care which leads to hospitals treating people who do not need to be treated, but are treated only due to their ability to pay),  and limit the use of untested and unapproved medicine. This change will obviously not take place overnight, but gradually and it can only be caused by first creating awareness about the issues at hand, which Dr. Brawley has done successfully.

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