Customer Reviews: YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment
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on April 13, 2006
I was a hospital administrator for just under two decades so most of this information is second nature to me. I purchased this book because I liked the general style of "You: The Owner's Manual" and was curious to see how the doctors tackled this subject. I have been impressed with the way they were able to take out much of the unnecessary medical and hospital terminology and get to the point for the rest of us.

The book is subdivided as follows:

1. Getting to Know You (Information that is important to convey to your doctor)
2. Finding Doctor Right (not all doctors are created equal, 50% of all doctors finished medical school in the bottom 50% or their graduating class)
3. Let's Play Operational (what you should know if you are scheduling surgery)
4. Prescription Drugs
5. How to Case a Hospital (choosing a safe hospital)
6. Have a Happily Humdrum Hospital Stay
7. Why You Should Always Get a Second Opinion
8. Just What Gives You the Right (Patient Rights)
9. Considering the Alternatives (Alternative Medicine)
10. Take Control of Your Health Insurance
Appendix 1: Medical Jargon Explained
Appendix 2: Sample Forms (Your Health Journal, Living Will, Power of Attorney for Health Care, Do Not Resuscitate Order)
Appendix 3: Resources

If you know someone that has been diagnosed with cancer, or will be undergoing surgery this is a nice book to buy. The doctors cover a lot of important topics like: making certain a hospital has JCAHO accreditation (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, checking the doctor's board certification, understanding HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, knowing drug interactions and getting second opinions. All of these things are extremely important and will impact your care if not your health.

If you don't work in a healthcare setting, I recommend reading this book before something happens to your health and you end up in the hospital. I read somewhere that almost half of us will have an inpatient stay in the hospital prior to the end of our lives. I don't think we can ever be too prepared for something that can have such an impact on our lives, or the life of someone that we love. As a former member of the hospital community I can tell you that the doctor and hospital that you select can have a tremendous impact on the outcome you experience. Why take a chance, know the facts, and know your rights.
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As the subtitle to this book suggests, the main purpose of this manual is to help you live a long, healthy life through educating you about your body and its needs. The first author, Michael Roizen, is the pioneer of the RealAge concept--i.e., the idea that age is better measured by lifestyle factors rather than chronology--and he incorporates much of this concept into the current work. In order to get a baseline sense of how much you already know about your body, the first chapter includes a self-assessment, The Body-Quotient Quiz. This multiple-choice questionnaire offers some surprising answers to questions as diverse as "What is the genetic reason that men typically want more sex than women?" and "What is the main purpose of skin?"

The book proceeds to devote a separate chapter to each of the following areas/systems of the body: the heart; the brain and nervous system; bones, joints, and muscles; the lungs; the digestive system; the sexual and sensory organs; the immune system; hormones; and cancer. Each chapter provides basic educational information, much of which is conveyed in easy-to-read "myth busters" and "factoid" formats. Then, once you have learned all the essential information about that area, the authors present a "Live Younger Action Plan," which is a step-by-step guide to making the lifestyle adjustments that can help you to live a longer, healthier life. Some of these actions involve simply making yourself more aware of your own body--eg, finding out your cholesterol levels--while others involve an actual behavioral change such as modifying what you eat. The final 50 pages of the book provide a simple diet plan based on very general guidelines; for instance, the authors offer recommendations under the categories of "foods to eat daily," "foods to eat weekly," and "foods to avoid." Also in this section is a suggested ten-day menu schedule which includes approximately 40 recipes.

This book contains a wealth of important information about general health and well-being. However, readers who already have a fundamental understanding of the factors which contribute to a healthy lifestyle may find this manual to be too basic. Adding to the book's sometimes primitive presentation are the illustrations, which, while clear and helpful, also border on juvenille in that they include depictions of strange, elf-like figures. Overall, however, this book imparts a great deal of vital knowledge in a simple, straight-forward manner, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn basic facts about their body's needs.
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I have to admit that I am a big fan of Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen. They have changed the way many Americans look at health and the major causes of diseases. While most of the medical community is focused on fixing existing problems with drugs and surgery, they are so much into prevention.

One of the underlying causes of so many problems is related to what we eat (and how much). This is a condensed version of their previous book, "YOU: On a Diet". It is just over 100 pages and features 99 of their best ideas of keeping the weight off.

One of the great things about this book is that it covers almost every part of eating and weight issues, including lifestyle, exercise and the important role of your mind and eating.

If you have read their previous books, you may be tempted to skip this. Instead, you may find it to be a great reminder. I have gotten into the habit of reading one of the short tips every day and focus on making it a habit. I've found that reading a book once usually means I retain about 10% of the information.

Sections 47 - 63 actually consist of a 20 minute workout. There are recipes spread throughout the book as well, with a 14 day diet plan at the end.

If you skipped their other books because they were a bit big, this may be perfect for you. It is an easy to read book with straight-to-the-point information without the excess verbiage. Admittedly, some of the information is obvious, but we all need to be reminded. It would make a great companion to more feeling-oriented books.

Bottom Line: This is a concise book of usable information without all of the fluff. It is written by medical doctors, not writers. This style will probably not appeal to everyone. If you like basic information, you probably will like this. If you enjoy more feeling oriented books, you might want to check out Geneen Roth's books, or Marianne Williamson's "A Course in Weight Loss".

Bill Cashell - Author of "The Emotional Diet"
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on August 19, 2005
This is a truly great and informative book. I've been a practicing physician for almost 25 years, and I can't tell you how many patients suffer from the most basic ignorance of their own body!

I couldn't put it any easier than this. Roizen does a terrific job of squeezing years of medical training into a human body user's manual that's fun and easy to read. I now recommend it to all my patients!

Don't skip this book. Do your body a favor and learn a little about it.
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on June 7, 2006
This book may be a five star read for those people who do not already know its contents, but for me, and anyone else who is generally health-conscious and up to speed on diet and exercise habits, it was old news. For example, if you already know that asprin thins the blood and therefore reduces risk of brain and heart disorders, if you already know that omega-3 fatty acids contained in salmon help the heart function properly, if you already know that peanuts, olive oil, and multivitamins are necessary parts of your diet, if you already know that 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week is healthy, then you probably will not learn too much by reading this book.
As far as the way it is written...there are way too many cheesy analogies that stray from the facts. It seems the book is written for teenagers but geered for adults.
Overall it is a good general health guide, but it is by no means revolutionary or even deeply informative. I would recommend it to anyone who has not previously researched diet and nutrition.
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on May 4, 2006
This book was an interesting read, and it certainly has some useful information in it. It's written in an irreverent style, for those who like that sort of thing. Chap. 1 does a good job of explaining how and why you should have a detailed health history on hand, as well as knowing your family history and keeping a list of your medications. Later on in the book, on p. 271, there is related advice, on getting copies of all your test results, radiology reports and specialist reports. All important to keeping your health information up-to-date.

Chap. 2 covers finding a good primary care doctor, though some of the advice is also meant for finding a specialist. Pages 91-95 are especially relevant, where it's explained that it's important for you to let a doctor ask you a lot of questions, so they can figure out what is wrong with you, and how important it is for you to answer those questions succinctly. At times, I couldn't tell if the content of this chapter was meant for finding a primary care or specialist doctor; I would have liked to have seen a chapter just on finding a specialist.

Chap. 3 is all about locating a good surgeon. It has a lot of fine points about finding the surgeon who's best for treating your condition, and has a list of important questions you should ask the surgeon before having an operation.

On p. 74, and again on p. 109, there are suggestions about finding a good doctor by asking for recommendations from nurses and anesthesiologists at nearby hospitals. I'm sure that these individuals do know who the better doctors are. However, I wonder how willing these health care providers would be to provide recommendations to patients who are complete strangers. But, it's a gambit that's worth a try.

There's a chapter about hospital stays, and the main advice is for you or your family members to make certain that the hospital staff wash their hands religiously, and to watch like a hawk to make certain that you're given the right treatments, tests and medications, rather than the wrong ones meant for another patient. It's astounding the amount of diligence you and your family will have to exercise during a hospital stay.

Chapter 7 is well-written and explains why it is so important to get a second opinion about your medical care. There's also a discussion about patient rights. Likewise, Chap. 9 on health insurance is full of useful tips explaining how to deal with your insurer.

After reading through the book, I was hoping to find advice on how to deal with a difficult situation I've experienced, but I wasn't able to find any. The situation is when I've done my homework like the book says, and found a surgeon who's highly regarded, works at a teaching hospital, has great credentials and is highly recommended by my family doctor. He's even published a paper about the condition I have. And then I go to him, and find that he's disinclined to answer the questions about surgery, such as those listed on p. 99-101. What's a patient to do in a situation like this? Here you've followed the advice in the book, and you're still stymied in getting good medical care.

There is only one small part of the book that I disagreed with, and that's the sidebar on p. 204, about being a grateful patient while in the hospital. Like the book says, it is nice if you can buy candy or pizza for the nurses during your hospital stay, to show your appreciation. But then the book goes on to suggest "if you've never been a people person in your life, now is a good time to get good at it."

This is great advice - if you're going on a job interview or to a party. A hospital stay is neither of these. You're there because you're sick and in pain and trying to get your health back. From my visits to hospitals to see friends and relatives, I've witnessed a cousin on morphine spouting out nonsense and unable to recognize family members. I've seen a friend so debilitated by surgery and pain, that she could barely carry on a conversation. Asking someone to be at their 'social best' under such circumstances is simply asking too much.

As much as a person is able to, they should try and not be disrespectful or overly demanding of the hospital staff. And I do think, as the sidebar suggests, that once you are out of the hospital and back to your normal self, that you write thank you notes to the staff, and let them know that you did appreciate the care you were given.

This subject makes me wonder if a patient should expect a doctor to 'get good at being a people person'.

All in all, I think the book is a good read for those who are totally mystified about obtaining decent health care. If you're half-mystified, there's still plenty of good suggestions here. But for anyone who's been involved with doctors and hospitals for some length of time, there's not much new in this book. You've probably already found out a lot of this information just through your experiences navigating the labyrinth that is medical care here in the US.
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on December 31, 2008
This book is truly awful. The information is insultingly over-simplified. Most of it is stuff that we already know from high school science class and general existence. It contains tons basic personal care instructions that anyone living in this country already knows (brush your teeth, wash your face, etc.). I bought this book hoping to find information like what to eat for strong hair, clear skin, etc. This book doesn't teach that, and it doesn't tell me anything I (and you) don't already know. More annoying than that: Pages upon pages are wasted on ridiculous cartoons that are supposed to teach us something, but are really just a lame attempt at humor (I don't need a jelly doughnut included in the spine to learn that vertabrae are squishy, nor do I need to see the artist's rendition of Fred and Wilma Flintstone arguing to see all that couples fight about money). There are pages of extremely basic workout advice that depict a male cartoon lifting weights for no reason that I can figure, and most of the VERY ugly drawings of people have pointed gnome ears (also for no apparent reason). Additionally, there seem to be a lot of jokes in the book geared towards men, while I don't know any man who would buy a purple book on "being beautiful". There's a great deal of commentary about men's issues (like balding) as well, so it's hard to tell who the hell this book is meant for. Please don't waste your money or time on this piece of garbage.
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on February 11, 2009
I have several of the "You" books, which I think are helpful and generally well written. This one was an insult. The content was slim compared to the other books. It seemed like a rush job to capitalize on the franchise. That I could have overlooked, but the tone had me rushing to return this book, which is extremely rare for me.

It's as though the target reader is a 10 year old who would find the references to boogers irresistible. For example, there is a diagram of a finger, with a pointer identifying matter under a fingernail as a booger.

Some humor is welcome, but know your audience. Assuming repeat "You" buyers are an obvious target audience, this book misses the mark.
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on January 6, 2009
Please know that I do not give one star reviews lightly. I had high hopes for this book and I was very excited to purchase it. However, this book completely missed the mark.

Now the first thing I am going to mention I believe has been mentioned before, but it is worth repeating. The illustrations. They are awful. I believe the look of a book sets the tone for the content. Why on earth would someone write a book about being beautiful and have such hideous illustrations?

The next thing I realized while reading through is that I couldn't quite figure out who this book was aimed towards. It was written in such a simplistic way that it really assumed everyone reading it must be completely daft or a preteen. On the other hand much of the content was based on those who are a bit older 40's and 50's. So that was odd. It was also heavily content geared toward both men and women. Now, I am not saying men and women can't both be beautiful, but perhaps two books would be in order. This book is heavily marketed towards women so why do I have to read through so much info about balding?

The writing itself is very choppy and the advice was juvenile. Wash your hair because it locks in bad smells. That is very basic advice and common sense. Anyone who wakes up in the morning after a late night at the bar would realize that hair traps smells.

I bought this book because while I am great with basic hygiene (I would think most of us are. Shower regularly, brush teeth, wash face, etc...these are all heavily detailed in the book) I could always stand some extra advice. Such as a few easy hair styles to make you look polished, extra advice on face washes and masks to use, etc...

This book mentioned several things in great excess such as cosmetic surgery. Wrinkles make you look ugly, but hey there is always botox! I don't have a problem with cosmetic surgery, per say, but I don't feel like it is necessary to being beautiful and I think mentioning it so much was bad form.

As I was trying to figure this book out my significant other said, "It's like they made this book for aliens to show them how human bodies work and how we keep ourselves clean." That is exactly it. This book is full of information I am sure you already know, written in an ugly format.

I had to take return this book. I found it complete rubbish. It might help you, but I really don't see how. Other books could do it so much better. I might spend more money, but I would rather have 4 books that really help me look and feel beautiful than one book that does nothing.

Oh! One last thing. What about being a beautiful person? I thought this book could have used more of that. More time devoted to how good, and lovely people feel when they do good things for others.

So if you have very low self esteem or have absolutely no idea how to care for yourself then I suppose this book might be useful. Otherwise, I suggest you look elsewhere.
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on March 5, 2007
Medical mistakes are a disaster. And we're not just talking about sensational boo boos like amputating the wrong leg or pumping an allergic patient full of penicillin. It's all the little errors that accumulate in a person's medical life that these two popular health authors are out to correct. It's up to each individual to take charge of the quality and scope of their own health and healthcare. They need to become "The Smart Patient."

Poor communication between patient and doctor, incomplete or inaccurate health histories, small mistakes that get propagated through our health records, and incomplete understanding of the surgical or pharmaceutical options available to each of us, these are error and omissions that can, and occasionally do kill. As a fellow physician, I have seen all too often, how a misspoken or misspelled word has been allowed to misguide doctors and misdirect treatment.

In my opinion, You The Smart Patient is a terrific roadmap for the average, healthy patient wanting to scour their health record clean of misleading errors, to flesh it out with useful personal information and to prevent new inaccuracies from contaminating it in the future.

The writing style, as in all the "YOU" books, mixes health information with a lot of chatty humor and busy cartoons. making for a stimulus-rich book reading experience. For the reader who can take it in as fast as they can deliver it, this can be a bit distracting. But the information is all there. This is a comprehensive treatment of the subject, outlining what you must do to interact safely with our imperfect healthcare system.

We all know it pays to be a savvy consumer and that ignorance is costly. But nowhere is the cost of consumer ignorance higher than in medicine. Empowering the patient is a dominant message in many of the most popular health books. You The Smart Patient is a one of your best roadmaps to that empowerment.

- John Corso, MD author of: Stupid Reasons People Die, An Ingenious Plot for Defusing Deadly Diseases
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