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Hippocrates' Shadow [Paperback]

by David H. Newman M.D.
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 15, 2009 1416551549 978-1416551546 Reprint
"Aclear-sighted, heartfelt, and humane story of the needless tests and treatments that cripple healthcare....as a guide to good medicine, it may help us get back to the essence of what good doctors do: be with patients in healing." —Samuel Shem, M.D., author of The House of God and The Spirit of the Place

In Hippocrates’ Shadow, Dr. David H. Newman upends our understanding of the doctor-patient relationship and offers a new paradigm of honesty and communication. He sees a disregard for the healing power of the bond that originated with Hippocrates, and, ultimately, a disconnect between doctors and their oath to"do no harm."

Exposing the patterns of secrecy and habit in modern medicine’s carefully protected subculture, Dr. Newman argues that doctors and patients cling to tradition and yield to demands for pills or tests. Citing fascinating studies that show why antibiotics for sore throats are almost always unnecessary; how cough syrup is rarely more effective than a sugar pill; and why CPR is violent, invasive—and almost always futile, this thought-provoking book cuts to the heart of what really works, and what doesn’t, in medicine.


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Editorial Reviews


"In Hippocrates' Shadow, Dr. Newman sits us down for the doctor-patient chat we've been longing for -- a refreshingly candid, daringly inquisitive discussion of the uneasiness that exists on both sides of the medical care equation these days. There is a cure for what ails us, and Newman doses it in thoughtful, perceptive proposals that make good sense. In the end, everyone feels a whole lot better. There is hope." -- Amy Silverstein, author of Sick Girl

"There are few books that I really almost cannot put down, but Hippocrates' Shadow is one. A stunning indictment of current medical practice by a hard-headed doc tested in big-city emergency rooms, combat hospitals in Iraq, and at his mom's bedside. If your doctor is this frank with you, you are a very lucky patient, and you are getting a lot better (and sometimes a lot less) treatment than most." -- Melvin Konner, MD, PhD, author of Becoming a Doctor

"Dr. Newman's book is insightful and thought provoking. He teaches the reader about aspects of medicine that many of us, lay people as well as physicians, do not understand or appreciate, including the imperfection of the 'science' of medicine as well as the progressive loss of the 'art of medicine.' Anyone who wishes to better understand the promise and limitations of medicine should read this book." -- Geoffrey Kurland, M.D., author of My Own Medicine: A Doctor's Life as a Patient

"A clear-sighted, heartfelt, and humane story of the needless tests and treatments that cripple health care -- and how to get rid of them. As a guide to good medicine, it may help us get back to the essence of what good doctors do: be with patients in healing." -- Samuel Shem, M.D., author of The House of God, Mount Misery, and The Spirit of the Place

About the Author

David H. Newman, M.D., runs a clinical research program and teaches at Columbia University and in the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center. He has also been widely published in biomedical journals. In 2005, as a Major in the Army Reserves, he was deployed to Iraq, where he received an Army Commendation Medal. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416551549
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416551546
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary. Can't get it out of my head November 2, 2008
By EM Doc
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am an emergency physician, trained via the same process as Dr. Newman. He and I learned the same skills, ways of thinking, and axioms. But, he took the time to actually investigate what we are doing- and lo and behold, much of it is flawed, dehumanized and wrong. It's not often that a book changes your practice and way of thinking- but this is it. My perspective, practice and teaching recently reflect Newman's. Recommended for all health workers, and should be a mandatory part of the medical student curriculum.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Perspective October 31, 2008
I am not ordinarily a fan of the anecdotal insert, but in this book it works. Dr. Newman brings a different perspective to the issue of evidence-based medicine, due to his experiences as a combat doctor and emergency room physician. His is a more laid-back style than other books in this field, and is very accessible. He provides specific examples of how our system repeatedly delivers health-care that has been proven ineffective or even outright harmful, while ignoring procedures that have been shown to be useful.

For me, the most fascinating part of the book was the section on "pseudoaxioms" -- medical practices which are enshrined in tradition and totally resistant to all evidence of their lack of efficacy.

I am taking one star off this review for abuse of footnotes. Footnotes can be very valuable to provide tangential or technical information, to be read or ignored as the reader prefers, but all too often in this book the information was essential to the point being made in the text and should have been in the body, not in a footnote. Constantly dropping down to check the footnotes made for a choppy reading flow.

Despite this annoyance, this book is a very good addition to the essential reading list in this area: Nortin Hadler's "The Last Well Person," H. Gilbert Welch's "Should I Be Tested for Cancer?", and Gerd Gigerenzer's "Calculated Risks."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable book - honest and revealing November 17, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unlike several of the earlier reviewers, I am not a medical professional; I'm a patient. I found Hippocrates' Shadow to be among the very best medical writing for laymen. Dr. Newman's ability to explain complicated medical concepts in simple terms, without condescending to the reader, is exceptional. It is obvious that his life experiences inform his writing as well as his medicine. From his time riding an ambulance as a paramedic to his Army service in Iraq, the book is full of interesting anecdotes, but not in service of his ego. Rather, the stories support the central point of each chapter.

If you've ever wondered what your doctor is thinking, or how he makes his decisions, or even just wondered why he can't talk to you a little better, you should read this book.

As for the footnotes, skip them. Unless you're a scientist, they're of little interest. They are necessary, though, to demonstrate that Dr. Newman didn't just make this stuff up. He shows you the facts upon which his conclusions are based. That's a direct and open communication with the reader. Direct and open communication is what doctors should have with their patients; it's the central point of the book. Dr. Newman walks his own line.

I look forward to reading his next book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly important book October 21, 2008
This is a fascinating, honest, and clearly well researched book.
Dr. Newman is skillful in combining anecdotes of his real world experience in "the house of medicine" with thorough research to support his arguments. In addition, I respect that he does not exempt himself from criticism acknowledging that he too is a part of the world of healthcare today. I am a physician, and I can truly say that I learned a lot. Whether you are someone who requires frequent follow up with your physician, or one of the lucky ones who sees his doctor for preventative care only, or you are simply in the market for an intelligent and thought provoking book "Hippocrates' Shadow is a must read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting, very approachable book October 26, 2008
By MaryRN
I have been an avid reader all my life. This is one book I could not put down. The topic is one that affects everyone. The doctor patient relationship is a very personal one and, I think most of us have been turned off by medicine in general and doctors in particular.
Dr. Newman has covered many controversial medical issues in a very readable and understandable manner. Although I am a registered nurse, I feel that the general public will have no difficulty in appreciating the content and relating to the subject matter.
I found the section on Celebrex most provocative, since I recently have been taking it, with what I thought were good results. Since reading the book, I have not taken it in several weeks, with no appreciable adverse effects. To the contrary, I feel fine.
This is a must read book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read! February 22, 2009
This book should be required reading for all physicians, nurses, paramedics, and for every medical student everywhere, as well as patients who have inquiring and curious minds and wish to be partners in their own health care. It is beautifully written, clear, well-researched, and humane. It is presented in a warm and straight-forward manner that makes it easy to understand for anyone - not only medical professionals. It contains essential information for everyone who deals with doctors, who practise medicine and who is a patient. Dr. Newman has done a brilliant job of elucidating many of the unconscious bases from which physicians practises arise and their resistance to change and effective pracise. Give it to your doctor as a gift. Leave copies lying in waiting rooms. Give it to anyone you know who is going through the medical system. I really hope Dr. Newman writes another book examining further pseudoaxioms and outdated practises in medicine. Obstetrics would be an excellent place to explore next. Read this book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
This book should be basic reading for everyone. In addition to explaining some realities of what pjysicians can and cannot do and discussing some things physicians do that do not... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Barry North
5.0 out of 5 stars Written for general readers but equally enjoyed by physicians
A unique look into the practice of medicine and its evidence basis, written by one half of the team behind the absolutely amazing SMART EM podcast. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Vince DiGiulio
5.0 out of 5 stars Grabbed my interest
I am currently a Pre Med student, and I've been watching some of David Newman's videos on youtube. The first couple of pages definitely grabbed my interest. Read more
Published 5 months ago by bobo
5.0 out of 5 stars House of medicine
Should be read by every med student and doctor to get a baseline feeling for the realy important parts of our Profession.
Published 6 months ago by joachim unger
5.0 out of 5 stars I've read it 4 times and that is not enough!
This is a practice changing book for a doctor like myself.and I hope all my patients read it. I teach medical students Family Medicine and I make this required reading and I buy a... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Steven Vidrine
5.0 out of 5 stars Good examination of myths and misconceptions
Does a good job of highlighting certain myths that continue to persist in medicine. The book is very readable with anecdotes preceding each story and a good layman's explanation of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sean M
4.0 out of 5 stars good info, tho I disagree with his conclusions.
He provides very good information about the limitations of medicine, and the need for more and better patient-doctor communication. Read more
Published 10 months ago by NG
5.0 out of 5 stars A practice changing book
This is one of the best books I have read on medicine. I think it is well written and can be read by both laypersons and medical professionals. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Pranay Sinha
5.0 out of 5 stars Hippocrates' Shadow
A good read. The book is fine physical conditon and I received in a timely way. Over service for the purchase was excellent.
Published 13 months ago by George E Kline
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for patients and physicians alike
An intriguing peak into the house of medicine. As a physician, many if these secrets have become so ingrained into our thought process that they have become simply give facts. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nonnoos
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