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Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health

de Anupam B. Jena

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422602,847 (3.5)6
Business. Health & Fitness. Medical. Nonfiction. HTML:Does timing, circumstance, or luck impact your health care? This groundbreaking book reveals the hidden side of medicine and how unexpectedbut predictableevents can profoundly affect our health. Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Why do kids born in the summer get diagnosed more often with A.D.H.D.? How are marathons harmful for your health, even when you're not running?
"Fantastically entertaining and deeply thought-provoking." Emily Oster, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Firm, Cribsheet, and Expecting Better

"Smart, entertaining, and full of surprises." Steven D. Levitt, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Freakonomics
As a University of Chicagotrained economist and Harvard medical school professor and doctor, Anupam Jena is uniquely equipped to answer these questions. And as a critical care doctor at Massachusetts General who researches health care policy, Christopher Worsham confronts their impact on the hospitals sickest patients. In this singular work of science and medicine, Jena and Worsham show us how medicine really works, and its effect on all of us.
Relying on ingeniously devised natural experimentsrandom events that unknowingly turn us into experimental subjectsJena and Worsham do more than offer readers colorful stories. They help us see the way our health is shaped by forces invisible to the untrained eye. Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Do you choose the veteran doctor or the rookie? Do you really need the surgery your doctor recommends? These questions are rife with significance; their impact can be life changing. Addressing them in a style thats both animated and enlightening, Random Acts of Medicine empowers you to see past the white coat and find out what really makes medicine workand how it could work better.
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Thanks to Doubleday/ Penguin Random House for the ARC. I honestly don't know how to rate this book because I like my popular science books very conversational with loads of anecdotes (think "The Body" by Bill Bryson or "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks) and long dry descriptions of research methodology bore me to tears, However, this is not actually a popular science book, and it feels unfair to compare it to one. I found myself skimming through how they did each study to get to the results already. Of course Stephen Leavitt would enjoy this, I thought.

I did learn a lot: about "confounders," about types of ambulances (who knew?), about risk-benefit analyses, about anchoring and left-digit bias. These are all interesting experiments, and cool findings and natural experiments in general are pretty fascinating. I think an e-book is a bad format for this particular title, since by the time you get to the footnotes you've forgotten what they are about, and switching back and forth is too much bother. Random Acts of Medicine was both too long and too short. I wanted at least ten more natural experiments but not all of the details. I'd say they could have put the research methodology in the footnotes but that would have been impossible, given that sometimes they changed the methodology to drill down further or control for different confounders, and in dARC format the footnotes, as I've said, were impossible to use anyway. I'm always happy when anyone points out the problems of medical overtreatment.

I'll say three stars but I'd probably rate a print copy a four in which I could use the footnotes properly. Or not, if I still found the writing pretty dry. ( )
1 vote jillrhudy | May 17, 2023 |
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Business. Health & Fitness. Medical. Nonfiction. HTML:Does timing, circumstance, or luck impact your health care? This groundbreaking book reveals the hidden side of medicine and how unexpectedbut predictableevents can profoundly affect our health. Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Why do kids born in the summer get diagnosed more often with A.D.H.D.? How are marathons harmful for your health, even when you're not running?
"Fantastically entertaining and deeply thought-provoking." Emily Oster, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Firm, Cribsheet, and Expecting Better

"Smart, entertaining, and full of surprises." Steven D. Levitt, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Freakonomics
As a University of Chicagotrained economist and Harvard medical school professor and doctor, Anupam Jena is uniquely equipped to answer these questions. And as a critical care doctor at Massachusetts General who researches health care policy, Christopher Worsham confronts their impact on the hospitals sickest patients. In this singular work of science and medicine, Jena and Worsham show us how medicine really works, and its effect on all of us.
Relying on ingeniously devised natural experimentsrandom events that unknowingly turn us into experimental subjectsJena and Worsham do more than offer readers colorful stories. They help us see the way our health is shaped by forces invisible to the untrained eye. Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Do you choose the veteran doctor or the rookie? Do you really need the surgery your doctor recommends? These questions are rife with significance; their impact can be life changing. Addressing them in a style thats both animated and enlightening, Random Acts of Medicine empowers you to see past the white coat and find out what really makes medicine workand how it could work better.

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