Taking Charge of Your Medical Fate Summary

Taking Charge of Your Medical Fate

Dr. Horowitz was the director of the United States Senate Subcommittee on Health when he traveled across the country with Senator Edward Kennedy in the 1970’s to examine the American health-care system. His conclusion was that “variability is at the center of the American way of health care--variability in quality of care, in access to care, in affordability of care.” Regardless of racial or economic factors, he wrote, many Americans “are unable to navigate through the system even when they have easy access to it.”

Since those travels, Horowitz has been a medical consultant to several large corporations and has synthesized his message for the public. This book outlines his plan for controlling one’s fate during medical crises.

Doctors, hospitals, universities, and research institutions provide medical services to people. If one knows what help is there for the asking, health care for everyone in the family is bound to improve.

Most people know that one should get a second opinion about serious illnesses, but do they know that they can compare hospital mortality rates in general or for bypass surgery in particular? There are also statistics on regional differences in the frequency of certain kinds of surgeries, such as hysterectomies and caesarians. Do many know that one can request that doctors access the PDQ (Physician Data Query) System of the National Institutes of Health via computer to find out where the latest research about diseases and their treatments are taking place and the latest protocols being used in their treatment?

Horowitz explains information-gathering techniques as well as powerfully presenting why one must take charge of these matters, what obstacles one might encounter, and how one can be an intelligent medical consumer.

The lengthy appendix gives telephone numbers for the National Institutes of Health, a sample printout from the PDQ System on breast-cancer treatment, and a directory of American medical schools.

Dr. Horowitz raises controversial issues, clarifies what the doctor-patient relationship should be, and, most important, provides a clear direction to take for the person who is in search of a cure.