Book Summary: What Doctors Cannot Tell You

Title: What Doctors Cannot Tell You

Author: Kevin B. Jones, M.D.

Basic Overview:

If your life is anything like mine, then having kids has exponentially increased the number of times you find yourself in a doctor’s office. Sometimes as I leave an appointment I feel a bit unsettled or confused. But as I think back, I realize I didn’t know what questions to ask. What Doctors Cannot Tell You is a fascinating and informative book that I think most moms would find extremely helpful as they navigate the world of healthcare for themselves and for their children.

In today’s society, we tend to expect doctors to have all the answers, all the time. This book explores how, even at its best, medicine is still a science, complete with answers and uncertainties. Jones, an orthopaedic surgeon and scientist, asserts that most physicians really want to do what’s best for their patient. While they can’t tell you what they don’t know, they can tell you when they don’t know. Then it becomes the patient’s responsibility to accept the uncertainties and work with their physician to decide on the best course of action.

Parts I Liked Best:

This is actually a pretty technical book, but the author did a great job of presenting the material in an engaging way. Most of the book is made up of real-life patient stories that demonstrate the different principles governing diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

I think my favorite feature of this book was the “Starting the Conversation” section at the end of each chapter. Here Jones provides a list of helpful questions you can ask your physician such as:

Are you treating my problem the same way you did a decade ago? If not, what was wrong with the old way?

For my condition, are you aiming initially for over-treatment or under-treatment?

Will you let me know when you reach the unknowable parts of my case?

Can you teach me how you think through my available options?

How This Book Made an Impact In My Life, Especially as a Mother (or why I just really liked it):

As my children’s health care advocate, I really want to have a good relationship with our physicians and be able to communicate effectively with them. I felt like this book was a very helpful glimpse into the mind of physicians and provided me with practical skills to better partner with them. While helpful for anyone, I would recommend this as a must-read for any mother whose family has ongoing medical problems.

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