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Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick Hardcover – August 28, 1992

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Are your health care providers duping you? Payer ( How to Avoid a Hysterectomy ), formerly chief medical correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and health editor for the New York Times , seems to think so, arguing that far too many doctors, as well as drug companies and insurers, are bilking the public, frightening people with unnecessary tests and concentrating far too much on benign conditions--e.g., fibrocystic breast disease, mitral valve prolapse and insomnia. Even though young women fall victim to breast cancer, for example, she opposes regular mammogram screenings for women under age 50 because the test often does not find cancer in the women. She cites studies showing that women who underwent regular screenings did not fare much better against breast cancer than those who were not screened. And she's concerned that since mammograms detect noncancerous abnormalities that must be checked out, they cause anguish and unnecessary surgical expense215 . When it comes to insurance, she advises that if a person has a pre-existing condition that he or she does not want to acknowledge, the person should make sure there is no way an insurance company can find out about it (either through medical or pharmacy records or from a central medical data bank). To be sure, there are devious drug companies and incompetent and crooked physicians who will wreak havoc with one's health. And yes, doctors often administer far too many tests in order to prevent a malpractice challenge. But does that mean the public should abandon medicine--or common sense?
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Payer's book seems to be addressed to the "worried well" or hypochondriacs and offers scant comfort to anyone living with any medical condition for which ignoring or minimizing symptoms and simply being tougher may not be the best idea. This book has many important ideas and insights into the way we conceptualize disease but is severely limited by the author's anecdotal style (though the text is heavily referenced) and her focus on individuals, making only passing acknowledgment of the social, economic, and ethical contexts expressed more coherently and sensitively in Arthur Barsky's Worried Sick: Our Troubled Quest for Wellness (Little, Brown, 1988) or Daniel Callahan's What Kind of Life: The Limits of Medical Progress ( LJ 1/90). An optional purchase.
- Mary Chitty, Biotrends Research, Natick, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 28, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471543853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471543855
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,021,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
We all know that medical care is expensive, tests are expensive, drugs are expensive, and that many people stand to profit from our current high-tech, drug-oriented medical treatments, but how many of us stop to consider what distortions this causes in the medical care that is offered to us? Ms. Payer helps us see some of the biases that are inherent in our medical system. Her books deserve a much broader audience. (Her previous book, _Medicine and Culture_ is also a 5-star book, IMO.) Should be "must" reading for all consumers of health care.
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Format: Paperback
When I see repeated TV ads telling me to 'ask my doctor about.....' I always wondered if there was a 'working relation' between the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies. When I see repeated studies that indicate doctors which have a financial interest in laboratory testing clinics or equipment, recommend more testing be done on their patients, I always wondered if there was a conflict of interest. And finally, when I see doctors going off to a 'conference' in Hawaii, etc to be courted and ego-stroked by the the pharmaceuticals, after which they return and claim a tax deduction, I wonder just where the patient fits into the over-all scheme of things. Thanks to this book, and based upon actual facts and data, I now know the answers to many of my questions.
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Format: Paperback
As diseases like "obesity" proliferate and as medical technologies detect more and more (often innocent) anomalies which are then frequently overtreated, Lynn Payer's fine, insightful, and entertaining book is more worthwhile and apropos than ever.
She offers an early example of the romance with technology and overestimation of its benefits when citing the French novel "Dr. Knock", when a modern marvel of a doctor moves into a French village of the early 1900s with the latest technology, a thermometer. He soon has all its denizens overconcerned with the arthritis they formerly handled routinely while measuring their temperature fluctuations daily and obsessing about them.

I would also recommend Gilbert Welch's fine and up-to-date book, "Should I Be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not and Here's Why".

The suffering caused by overtesting and overtreatment is not trivial. Cheers to those who examine and balance costs and benefits of culturally-prescribed medical norms.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very informative book
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