Reviewed by Scott B.

One hundred thousand die every year in the United States because of medical malpractice, and this fact needs to be discussed openly. Thus, we have the reason and purpose of Surviving Your Doctors, written by NYC-area physician Richard Klein, who implores us that “being an active participant in one’s health care is essential for survival.”

Amazing as it sounds, it seems that doctors and nurses still do not wash their hands enough! Hence the prevalence of infections acquired during surgery and other procedures. Five percent of doctors are responsible for 50 percent of malpractice payments, says Klein, and 50 percent of hospital deaths. The good doctor then gives us many things we can do to at least try to protect ourselves and loved ones from becoming one of these statistics.

Dr. Klein has testified on the behalf of plaintiffs at malpractice hearings for 25 years and wants to walk us through all areas of the medical world—doctor’s office, surgery, ER, insurance, etc. Although generally informative and useful, some of Klein’s advice amounts to lessons on “how to go to the doctor,” “how to go to the gynecologist,” “how to go to the ER,” or “how to be pregnant.” However, his statistics and stories concerning the prevalence of medical malpractice are a stiff reminder for any who still persist in seeing doctors as gods. Case histories of needless injuries and deaths are the most useful—and frightening—parts of the story.

His mantra that the United States ranks 37th in the world in health care (according to the WHO) is repeated often. The book is also a thinly veiled argument for the single-payer health system, until the last chapter, where it is argued for openly. ObamaCare, anyone? Malpractice is the main focus, but, according to Klein, a [amazonify]1442201398[/amazonify]single-payer system will somehow mitigate the problem. He does, however, contradict himself on Medicare (which is single-payer for the elderly). Early in the book he says that Medicare started out great—no referrals needed, government paid on time—but now Medicare rejects more and more treatment. It is now a mess, he says. But in the last chapter, Medicare can do no wrong—very efficient, only 2 percent of the money goes to administrative costs. Whereas, and this is another motif of the book, those evil, money-grubbing private insurance companies use up 20 percent to pay their executives.

This a useful and important book to be sure, but one that could have benefited from a more aggressive editor to cut out much of the repetition and padding pabulum. Its 202-page text could have been made half as long, put into a nice-sized trade paperback, and been sold prominently at pharmacies—and doctors’ offices! This endnoted volume comes with an extensive bibliography and Internet resources for becoming your own best advocate in the medical system.

F. Scott, now a copy editor by trade, is a once-and-future Latin teacher. He pursues his passions for brain plasticity, jazz piano, and golf in southeast Massachusetts. He lives alone with Cicero, Shakespeare, Mozart, and Ella Fitzgerald.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Newman Communications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.