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Harmful Medicine: A Book Review of “How We Do Harm” by Otis Brawley, MD

I chose this book because the title was so intriguing. I wanted to see how the United States health care system is portrayed through the eyes of a medical doctor. Dr. Brawley is an oncologist at an inner city hospital in Atlanta, GA. He is also the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of The American Cancer Society. The book is co-authored by Paul Goldberg who is a cancer investigative reporter. I also work in an inner city hospital. We used to be the "county hospital" before an HMO bought our facility. We have a wide variety of patients now.On any given shift, I might care for an executive or a gang member. I thought it would be fascinating to compare our views of working in an inner city hospital.
Brawley guides his readers through noteworthy cancer case studies such as those of Edna (14-33), Helen (53-76), and Lila (115-157).Brawley shocks his audience with the graphic account of Edna, who walks into the ER with her breast wrapped in a towel. She ignored a lump in her breast until it broke the skin open. Eventually, the breast detached from the chest wall. Edna did not get treatment because she was afraid her job would be in jeopardy. She knew she could not afford the co-payments and was afraid of the unknown.As I read this case, I was disturbed that Edna was evidently not aware of after-hour clinics or the Family Medical Leave Act.
Helen, who also had breast cancer, was given the advice by her physician to have bone marrow transplantation. Helen's oncologist promoted the $60,000 to $150,000 transplantation procedure, which led to huge co-pays for Helen, even though it was proven not to prolong survival. It was the oncologist who reaped the benefits of huge payments, and Helen suffered monetarily, physically, and emotionally, without cause.
In the case of Lila, a cancer patient was ordered to have Procrit for "cancer fatigue.” This hemoglobin-buildin

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