Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor Can Make the Right Medical Choices Together Hardcover – September 4, 2012
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
“Written with clarity and a touch of humor, this is a quick and thoughtful read, a good choice for patients, and a must for medical professionals.” (Library Journal)
“Ubel’s advice for doctors is solid, and his suggestions for patients are equally sage.” (Booklist)
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Ubel's historical outline helps frame the provocative chapters that follow, on the irrationality inherent in so much of our most pivotal decisions. Based on years of cutting-edge behavioral research, much of it Ubel's own, I found these to be the most interesting part of the book. I'd encountered many of the studies in my own research on medical decision-making, but never before collected in such a coherent and powerful way.
Finally, Ubel closes with chapters geared toward preparing both physicians and patients for a new era of shared decision-making. This is perhaps the most "practical" part of the book for someone currently grappling with a medical decision, but it might lose its resonance if not for all the anecdotes and analysis leading up to it.
There lies the conflict I see with this otherwise excellent book. At its best, it would serve as a manual for people in the grips of a difficult medical decision. But the historical and theoretical background, though interesting, may discourage someone actively making medical decisions from using this book in the moment. On the other hand, though healthy laypeople should be interested in these issues, I wonder why they'd read an entire book about them (especially with 50 Shades of Grey within reach).Read more ›
First some basic comments. Dr. Ubel is a physician and ethicist with a humanities background. He has been both a patient and the family support for patients, so his qualifications are superb. The book is well organized and written clearly. He includes references and additional resources. The topic is incredibly topical. I’ve read it once, taking notes, and will be reading it again, after which it will remain on my shelf for reference.
Now, about the book itself.
He sets his discussion of patient choice within a historical perspective. Beginning with the distant era of Hippocrates where paternalistic comfort was the core of professionalism (a time when comfort and hope were all that doctors had to offer), he leads the reader through various stages such as the advent of science, the rise of knowledge as power to be wielded unilaterally by the authoritarian physician, the beginnings of the patient emancipation process with Karen Ann Quinlan and the struggle over who had the right to make decisions about end of life care, to patient empowerment and engagement in shared decision making, and finally to the needs for educational and cultural changes to support collaboration between patients and their clinicians.
Within this historical narrative he uses anecdotes (both his and others), medical science (with some nice discussions of screening, breast cancer, and prostate cancer), and behavioral economics to trace a path from what was through what is to what we should be striving to create.
A thoroughly enjoyable and educational book. Buy it and read it.
He also realizes how many times we are NOT presented with decisions but simply presented them as fait accomplis by doctors who often do not realize patients may have values different from their own and might choose differently. He gives explicit examples of this from his own wife's medical experiences and many others. He also puts into great historical perspective how and why disclosure/decision expectations have changed between physician and patient.
This book is a beautiful, helpful, thoughtful, and wise contribution and an exceptional book on the topic.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Critical Decisions provides a wealth of history and information about medical decision making, and how doctors and patients each think about decisions. Read morePublished 14 months ago by G. L. Baumblatt
Peter Ubel is a doctor and a bioethicist - who better to dive deep into the changing character of the relationship between doctor and patient, and to give a look into the heart and... Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by MightyCasey
Interesting and fast read. Amusing and revealing anecdotes. Perhaps there isn't much of a solution. The end of the book leaves a feeling of wishy-washiness without any concrete... Read morePublished on November 29, 2013 by smartpuppy
Interesting and enlightening book and easy to read for the lay person. Very helpful advise for people navigating our medical systemPublished on November 22, 2013 by Connie Paine
and patients, of course.
A very thought-provoking, easy-to-read and important book, in my opinion.
I don't really have much more to say.
I think that the author covers great material, and makes a valiant effort to engage us through actual patients and candid personal thoughts and insight. Read morePublished on May 10, 2013 by David L. Ryon
A great read for anyone wanting to learn how to participate in medical decision-making with their physicians. It ain't easy, but here are some examples, and some lessons. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Richard Barker
Making medical decisions is difficult. Almost always one must deal with benefits and side effects. Although decision making never will be easy, making better decisions is certainly... Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by Nan